How do I claim pothole damage to my car on a private road? DEAN DUNHAM answers

I was recently driving on a private road that was in poor condition and my front wheel hit a pothole. It damaged my car and now I have to pay a large repair bill.

How can I make a claim to get this money back?

JK Ipswich, Suffolk.

The growing number of potholes are causing more and more damage to vehicles, but if this happens on a private road, can you make a claim for any problems caused?

Consumer rights attorney Dean Dunham responds: If you damage your vehicle after driving through a pothole, in most cases you will need to file a claim for compensation with the organization responsible for the public road in question.

This is often the municipality or the Highways Authority. The law in this case is the Road Act, which sets out the obligations and responsibilities in the field of public roads.

However, if the pothole is on a private road, these authorities are not liable and the Roads Act does not apply.

Instead, responsibility for the private road lies with the person or entity that owns the road. The rules for private roads are set out in the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 for England and Wales; the Occupiers’ Liability Act (Northern Ireland) 1957; and the Occupiers’ Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 in Scotland.

Under both laws, the fundamental legal principle is that the owner of the private road has a duty to keep it safe. And if a hazard is present (such as a pothole) and the owner knows or should know, then there is a responsibility to make it safe (i.e. repair the pothole) or to provide adequate warnings to road users.

Your first point of contact here is to find out who owns the private road and write to them with all relevant information. Indicate the date and time the damage was caused, where exactly on the road the pothole is located, the size of the pothole and the costs to repair the damage caused. You should also cite the relevant law above.

Sometimes these claims are simple if the private road is owned by a supermarket or property developer and therefore leads to a public shopping area.

However, when the road is owned by a private individual and leads to or along their private property, it can be more difficult. Therefore, also consider whether it is easier to rely on your car insurance, although this may affect your premium.

My bank’s fraud team blocked a payment when I tried to buy a sofa – by the time it was allowed the sofa was sold out – now I can only find it for £100 more

Can I request compensation?

CC Epping, Essex.

Blocking transactions has become an everyday practice for banks and is perfectly acceptable in most cases, writes Dean Dunham

Blocking transactions has become an everyday practice for banks and is perfectly acceptable in most cases, writes Dean Dunham

Dean Dunham replies: Banks are becoming increasingly cautious about money transfers in an effort to combat the escalating number of Authorized Push Payment (APP) scams, where consumers are tricked into transferring money from their bank accounts to fraudsters.

Most banks have also signed a voluntary code (the Contingent Reimbursement Model Code) in which they have agreed to take steps to raise customer awareness of scams, to do more to prevent them and to recover customers in certain circumstances pay.

As a result, blocking transactions has become an everyday practice for banks and, in most cases, completely acceptable.

A bank must usually process payment requests within 24 hours, unless there are good reasons to take longer. Interestingly, new legislation being introduced by the government will give UK banks the power to pause payments for up to 72 hours if they suspect a customer is being scammed.

This is a clear indication that it is considered acceptable and reasonable for banks to delay payments while they investigate.

In most cases it will therefore be unlikely that you will be able to claim compensation from a bank for a blocked payment.

However, banks must act responsibly and if you can prove that a) your bank took more than 24 hours to process a payment without good reason and b) you suffered damage as a result, this may give rise to a claim .

If you find yourself in this situation, the first step you should take is to complain to your bank and ask for compensation.

If it says no (and in most cases it will be the answer to a claim like this), your next step is to make a claim with the free Financial Ombudsman Service. But be prepared, your circumstances will have to be extreme to be successful.