Dragging it out

I lived with a woman for five years, but when we split up she locked me out of her flat and got a court order to keep me out.  I was allowed to collect some clothes, and a year later my mother collected some furniture and belongings.

I have since written and telephoned in an attempt to recover my other goods, worth about £1,000, but to no avail.  My solicitor has said we should sort it out between us since he cannot act on legal aid on my behalf. What can I do?  SC

Why you should need three visits to remove your effects is your business, but your former partner may view it as harassment.  So you could suggest she leaves your possessions at a mutual friend’s house for you to collect.

On the legal front you could itemise what you’re missing, put a value on them and suggest you will pursue compensation through the small claims court if your possessions are not returned.  I take it you made no contributions to the flat which would give you a potential claim on the property.

Not secure

My tools were stolen from a building in a ‘secure’ compound where I’m working.  The main contractor on the site (I’m working for a sub-contractor) employs a security firm, but when the theft took place the security guard was asleep!  No one is offering to replace my tools.  Can you advise me if I can get anyone to pay for them?  MD

You personally don’t have a contract with the security firm to look after your equipment.  And even if the tools had belonged to the main contractor it’s unlikely the security firm will have agreed to accept responsibility for anything that goes missing.

However, although you can’t take the security firm to court for breach of contract it’s just possible you could sue them for negligence.  Your case will be difficult to prove without clear evidence, although if you could prove the guards were often asleep it would be a good start!  I have to say insurance would be a better bet.