Charges; Drivers Kept in the Dark
What should you be charged if you damage ‘Crown Property’, otherwise known as ‘street furniture’, such as a barrier? It is important to be aware that, in many instances:
- if the repair is over £10,000 the invoice is presented to the Public Authority for example, Highways England who pay their contractor. You then receive the bill from the Public Authority who seek the money from you (the private motorist or fleet) or your insurer.
- if the bill is under £10,000, you will get the bill from the contractor
Why does it matter who sends you the bill? The answer is; if the bill is sent to the Public Authority it is common for a lower set of prices to be used. Whilst the contract appears to state otherwise, it the Public Authority allows their contractors to charge drivers (third parties) as much as they can get away with, as much as they consider to be ‘reasonable’ – and if you want to take issue with them, go to Court!
How do you determine the reasonableness of the charges if the contractor acts unreasonably? You will likely be provided scant documentation in support of the claim, be told no more information is available (or will not be provided) and if you ask for the contract, could be advised this is ‘commercially sensitive’ the very document that sets out the charging process is kept from you!
What confidence can you place in the fairness of a contractor’s charges if they are obstructive or act unfairly?
In March 2017, Appendix A to Annex 23 of the Area 9 (NW) contract was placed in the public domain and indicates that the protection Highways England sought to build into the contract has been ignored, that the contractor has, since 01/07/2014, been charging drivers, fleets and insurers (third parties) in contradiction of the agreement without interference from the Public Authority.
To understand the process and know what and who to ask before settling an invoice received, please email CMA – click here