The now infamous Hatton Garden Heist, which took place over the Easter Weekend, has left many small businesses in financial ruin.
Over 70 safety deposit boxes held at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Limited were ransacked by burglars disguised as workmen, who reportedly entered the building on 2 April 2015 and descended a lift shaft, before gaining access to the building’s vault and security boxes by drilling through a 2m thick vault door. Many deposit box owners had taken the decision not to insure the contents of their boxes.
Hatton Garden, a world renowned area of London, famous for housing the London Diamond Bourse and some of the most prestigious jewellers in the UK, and indeed the world, is now facing the financial devastation of many of its family owned businesses, jewellers and traders. It is reported that the police were notified of the break in shortly after midnight on Friday 3 April, but no police response was implemented. 9 men have been charged in connection with the burglary and have been remanded in custody pending further hearings.
Many of those who have suffered losses are considering seeking advice regarding how best they might recoup these. Whilst it is not certain that even insured losses will be recoverable, those who have uninsured claims may not have lost all, as they may have the option of pursuing claims through civil actions in the courts.
“it is difficult to say more until the police investigation has run its course and the salient facts about the raid have come to light” says Stephen Burns, Commercial Litigation partner,“however, there are a number of avenues that the victims may wish to pursue privately, outside of the police investigation, in order to attempt recovery of their losses through the courts. Victims may wish to bring actions in negligence, breach of contract and arising out of the law of bailment, if those in possession of their belongings failed to take adequate care of them whilst in their charge.”
Whilst it may be difficult (although not impossible) to establish liability whilst the police investigation is underway, it is important that those who have suffered uninsured losses (and even those whose insurance may not cover any, or all, of their losses) investigate alternate means of recovery, which ultimately may mean their business’ economic survival.
In this instance, as with every civil claim, the normal hurdles must be overcome to succeed in establishing liability, which may ultimately lead to an award of damages. For example, each victim’s loss must be proven. This may be a particular issue in this matter, where many of the valuables stored in the burgled boxes were not documented as being stored at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, or at all. There may also be exclusion clauses and limitations of liability in the terms and conditions that must be considered.