Claiming Compensation for a failure in Duty of Care

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When it comes to compensation claims, these three short words are hugely important. We’ll look in more detail at what the phrase means, and why it’s so significant, but let’s start with a short, clear definition.

In law, Duty of Care describes the obligation of a business, or goods provider, to keep their employees and consumers safe from harm. It is not something that can be opted out of.

If this Duty of Care is breached, it can be legally be considered negligence.

If you suffer an injury or illness as a result, the business or provider can be found liable and you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Table of contents

When does Duty of Care apply to a compensation case?

If you’ve been harmed, and you believe someone else’s negligence is the reason why, two key things need to be proved.

  1. The other party owed you a Duty of Care.
  2. The other party failed to take reasonable steps to fulfil that duty, resulting in you being physically or psychologically harmed.

This outcome, of course, can apply to a vast range of different settings and incidents. At Direct2Compensation we deal with a large number of valid compensation cases. Here are some of the most common scenarios we handle.

Duty of Care at work

All employers have a Duty of Care to their employees to avoid injuries at work. By law, they should deal with injured staff correctly and take all reasonable steps to keep you from harm’s way in the first place.

This means they should be undertaking things such as staff inductions, effective training, regular risk assessments, and the provision of the correct PPE and a secure environment which is free from avoidable dangers.

The wider implications of Duty of Care, however, often differ from job to job:

  • On a construction site, it might include providing appropriate tools and safety equipment, as well as minimising any potential hazards, or contact with dangerous chemicals.
  • In an office, it might include ensuring that all desks and chairs are ergonomically sound, and that relevant health and safety protocols are in place.
  • In a restaurant kitchen, it might include making sure that working conditions are safe and hygienic, and that working practices do not put staff at risk.
  • On a factory floor, it might include precautions and training around machinery, as well as giving employees sufficient work-breaks.

It’s worth being aware that there’s a difference between an employer’s statutory duties (reasonable steps which should be followed to avoid injuries and accidents) and their absolute duties (non-negotiable absolutes which have to be in place, such as keeping work equipment in safe working order) – although Duty of Care covers both.

No matter what your line of work, or where your job takes you, we’re always able to offer advice on whether you might have a valid work accident compensation claim. Please feel free to get in touch.

When receiving medical treatment

Doctors, nurses and medical professionals – including those in the NHS, as well as private practitioners – all have a clear remit to make sure you’re given the highest standard of care. If you suffer because these standards haven’t been met, perhaps through a misdiagnosis, through harmful advice, or through an avoidable delay in treatment, you may have a case for a medical negligence claim.

Duty of Care in a shop

Supermarkets and other retail outlets have an obligation to keep their premises safe for customers. Among other things, this includes removing unsafe aisle obstructions, clearing up any liquid spills as soon as possible, using hazard signs when necessary, and ensuring carpets are free of rips and tears that could cause a trip or fall. If you’ve suffered an accident in a supermarket or slipped on a shop floor due to the mistakes or negligence of the traders, you may have a valid claim for compensation.

When using a product

Any product that you buy should be safe for use, and be clearly labelled with warnings of any associated dangers. Manufacturers have an obligation to carry out relevant safety tests on the products they sell. If manufacturers fall short in this Duty of Care, and you come to harm as the result of a faulty or hazardous product, you may have a case for negligence.

In a café, restaurant, hotel or other hospitality business

All hospitality businesses have a Duty of Care to their customers. This covers everything from food hygiene and cleaning procedures to trip and slip hazards.

If the negligent actions of a hospitality business have caused you to be injured or to become unwell, we can offer advice on whether you have a legal right to compensation.

At a school or university

Places of learning are obliged to take all reasonable steps to keep their students and staff safe from harm. This might cover anything from serious bullying and personal safety to fire precautions and First Aid provision. Should you have been unfortunate enough to have come to harm in a place of learning, as a result of the school or university’s negligence, we can help you establish whether you have a claim.

As a road-user or pedestrian

All road-users have a Duty of Care to their fellow road-users. This applies to drivers, cyclists, horse-riders and even pedestrians. If an individual is deemed to have caused an accident through unsafe driving or unsafe behaviour, they could be judged to have failed in their Duty of Care to you and face a road traffic accident claim. This might also apply to a local authority which has neglected to keep roads or pathways in a satisfactory condition.

On public transport

If you’re injured on a train, bus, tram or ferry, and the cause can be attributed to the actions of the transport provider, you may have a claim for compensation. This could relate to negligent driving, dangerous on-board conditions, or even a mechanical malfunction.

No matter what the scenario you find yourself in, and whether it’s listed above or not, we’re always happy to talk things through. If we feel you have a case for a claim, we’ll work to secure you the level of compensation you’re entitled to.

How much compensation could I be due?

This would depend on a number of different factors, including the nature of the accident and the long-term impact of the injury or illness. In the first instance, we would advise you to get in touch to discuss your situation. We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, and have many years of experience in compensation claims.

What if I can’t prove that a third party was at fault?

If a harmful incident was caused by something other than a third party’s negligence, it can sometimes be possible to claim compensation through other means. We’ll always give you fair and truthful advice as to whether you’re likely to have a claim.

Let us help

Might you be in a position to make a negligence claim for Duty of Care? You’re in safe hands with Direct2Compensation. Our advice is always honest, our claims process is transparent and effective, and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with our no-win, no-fee approach.

To find out more, or to start your claim today, call us on 01225 430285. If you prefer, . After just a few minutes on the phone, we’ll have enough information to allow our solicitors to get your claim started.

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Comments & Questions

Read on for questions and advice about claiming...

Does employer have a duty of care to employee who is suspended with regards to mental health?

Ian Morris

The employer is not responsible for personal health issues of staff whether they are at work or suspended, but employers must not cause or contribute to health issues. In the scenario you describe, if the individual is suffering a mental health decline due to suspension, that does not indicate employer negligence and the suspended employee should seek specialist help from their GP and local Mental Health support services.


My Partner works for the local council where he was being bullied by his Supervisor. Not only this at one point my Partner was left coughing up black stuff and blood after doing the ‘blowing out’ in the mornings. He asked to be removed from this task for a while but this was refused. Then my Partner was made to come into work on a red weather warning day for wind and on the way home was knocked off his motorbike causing injury to his knee. This left him in a lot of pain. As his role involves walking all day, he asked his Supervisor if he could be taken off the blowing out in the mornings so he would have less walking to do. Not only refused, but my Partner was also mocked as well.

It was only once he had seen a specialist and found out that because he had been made to continue walking long distances on his injury, that he now has osteoarthritis in his knee. My Partner made a complaint to the manager above the supervisor and he was finally listened too. Unfortunately he was still made to work with this supervisor even though he didn’t want to. Despite everything the problems still continued, resulting in my Partner being moved to a new area which was further for him to travel and by now he only had a push bike and it was all too much. To make matters worse, the place that he had been moved to had no facilities (running water, toilet or heating).

My Partner asked for reasonable requests with slight changes to help him continue his work, but the Supervisor refused and said there is nothing that can be done for him. My Partner’s mental health has since been very unstable and he was very close to having a heart attack because it had caused him such distress. My Partner has been off work since October and the Doctor has advised that he should not be going back because that is why he is in this position. My Partner’s health is now in a bad way meaning that he can’t just jump into another job.

This is completely down to my Partner’s employers failure in their duty of care. I’d be very grateful if you would be able to advise if would have a case to claim at all.

Ian Morris

The best course of action in such a potential claim is to speak with the right specialist Solicitor. Thankfully, we have specialists in such cases with detailed experience and knowledge to be able to advise you and your Partner further.

Please go to our stress at work page where you can download and complete an initial questionnaire that you then email to us. Our specialist Solicitors can then review the matter in detail and will contact you to discuss a potential No Win No Fee claim for compensation.


My partners work lorry was blown off the road into a ditch/stream in Wales. My partner and the driver managed to get out of the vehicle to safety. On contacting their workplace to report the incident, they were told that recovery was on the way. However, once the recovery arrived, the lorry wasn’t able to be recovered easily, so they were left stranded at the site. They rang their work to report this and were told there was nothing work could do until the following day.

The lorry was a sleeper lorry which formed their overnight accommodation meaning that they were left with nowhere to stay, stuck in the middle of nowhere with no internet to book anywhere for themselves to stay, soaked and freezing in the middle of a storm.

I am sure the duty of care has been breached here, but dont know where to go for advice.

I await your reply.

Ian Morris

It is hard to fathom how an employer can think it acceptable to leave two employees stranded somewhere without any means to seek shelter or onward travel – let alone the conditions in which they abandoned them. This is certainly something that your partner and his colleague should follow up with the employer in terms of a grievance.

Although the employer has clearly failed your partner and his colleague, their ‘poor’ handling of the aftermath of the incident is not in and of itself grounds to pursue a claim for compensation.

However, if your partner sustained any injuries in this incident it is likely that we can assist him in pursuing a No Win No Fee claim for personal injury compensation.

For further help with a personal injury claim, your partner should either call us on 01225430285 or provide further details via the form on our website.


I was involved in a fatal road accident whilst carrying out my daily duties at work as a HGV driver, my employer has only been concerned about my return which I am still receiving therapy for PTSD suffered after the accident.

Ian Morris

Your employer has a right to discuss your absence in order to ensure that they can plan appropriately and continue to manage their business needs. However, the employer should not be pressuring you to return – especially if you are absent from work on the basis of a Doctor having signed you off for a specific period of time.

It is clear that the serious incident in which you were involved would have a big impact on your psychological well-being and that you will need time and therapy before you are fit to return to the type of work you undertake.

If you have not already started a claim for personal injury compensation, please contact us for further help and advice.


Hi i work for an company for all most 3 years, i always complain because they do the service and brakes in time , i even send them pictures from the dashbord and nothing…. nobody is doing nothing because the company dont have any policies so basically no were to complain or put a grivance, but on 8/11/2022 they send me out driving on a van with an expired mot from 13/08/2022 and no brakes when i complain because i was not well psychologically and been sick on 10/11/2022 they didn’t do anything on 11//11/2022 when back to work they said everything was fine and the van had brakes ….. nothing about the mot , on the 09/11/2022 the van has been put on the mot and failed brakes under 1.5 mm thick , they fix the brakes and passed but on the file they put just the second mot , …. any advice on this as i am still not psychologically well and stresed and they king of starting picking on me ….. any advice

Ian Morris

It is vital that you put your concerns about the lack of maintenance and servicing on the company vehicles in writing to the employer. You should refuse to drive any vehicles that are not legally roadworthy as you will be responsible for any motoring offences and potential criminal charges should something happen as a result of the vehicles being unroadworthy and dangerous.

You may wish to contact the Health and Safety Executive as a whistleblower regarding this should the employer continue to fail to uphold their obligations.


I’ve had a car accident because my employer didn’t repair the brakes on a van which i reported 1.5 month ago. The brakes eventually failed, i came off the road and hit 2 lamp posts so i could stop the car. The accident just happened a few hours ago and I’m starting to feel pain on my left foot and back of my neck.
What would u advise me to do?
I’ve been advised by a colleague of mine to act really fast and seek for legal advice.

Ian Morris

The very first thing you should do after an accident is to ensure that a written report of the accident is made – in this case, with your employer. You should make sure that the report contains reference to the previous report you had made regarding the faulty vehicle brakes around 6 weeks ago. You should then seek medical attention regarding your injuries.

If you made a written report of the fault with the brakes when you reported the issue, your potential to pursue a claim for employer negligence is increased. If an employer is made aware of a maintenance issue which could jeopardise health and safety if left unattended, they will be liable for any injuries caused as a result of their negligence. If this is the case, we can assist you. However, if not it may prove more difficult.

Ideally, this can be treated as a claim for an accident at work due to employer negligence rather than a car accident. The recent whiplash/soft tissue injury road traffic accident compensation reforms could preclude you from using a No Win No Fee Solicitor to pursue your claim (if indeed this is treated as a Road Traffic Incident rather than employer negligence) as it is unclear that your injuries will meet the relevant value criteria. However, your foot needs to be examined as there could be a bone injury – if so, we can certainly assist you in this matter as you are in a position to pursue a claim for personal injury.

If the Police have attended the scene of the collision, ensure that you inform them that you had previously reported a fault with the brakes on the vehicle and be sure to obtain the Police incident reference

As and when you have had medical treatment and reported the incident to your employer, please call us on 01225430285 for further help.


I work on a busy 27 bed ward at leeds general infirmary. Occasionally we have meal audits to make sure the service is running smoothly. As of 3 weeks ago they have been auditing every meal service both lunch and evening meal. Our ward is the only one to receive this treatment. I explained to my supervisor two weeks ago that the constant monitoring is causing my stress levels to increase and it didn’t feel fair that our ward was the only ward getting the audits. I also suggested compromises such as being audited every other day would help relieve this but that suggestion was shot down. My supervisor referred me to occupational health who suggested in an email to myself and the same supervisor that we have a chat about my working conditions, that was sent 8 days ago and my supervisor has not reached out to talk to me, in the meantime they’re still doing daily audits and my stress levels are spiking as I also now feel ignored. Would there be anything I can do?
Kind regards

Ian Morris

At this stage it is probably too early for any claim to commence, but that prospect remains a very real possibility down the line, should your employer continue to fail to act on your reports of stress and if your mental health continues to suffer as a result. With this in mind, the key thing is to ensure that your rights and potential future interests in pursuing a claim are protected. Therefore, it is vital that you ensure that any correspondence between yourself and your supervisor, employer and occupational health regarding this issue is done in writing. If your employer is shown to have been on notice of a potential issue in writing, but failed to act on that, it is far easier to establish negligence (and succeed with a claim) than it is if you have simply voiced your concerns verbally and relied on the same in response.

You should also speak to your GP regarding your stress and anxiety in order that your medical records are updated accordingly and make any appropriate referrals for treatment.

Undertaking these actions will ensure that the appropriate evidence is available down the line should you then wish to make a claim.


I slipped on stairs as it was dark as the lights didn’t work as one off the light bulbs was full off water! I have damaged ligaments also got a blood clot which traveled from my ankle to my neck/shoulder and hand! A guy went and removed the light bulb which he confirmed before h&s went in. Now the employer claims that they are not liable! Is this right? I have photos of the bulb and dark stairs and a witness who says they followed me up the stairs which stopped any natural light from the window at the bottom off the stairs.

Ian Morris

Do you have a Solicitor acting for you in this matter? If not, we would like our Solicitors to take this on for you as it would appear that you may have valid grounds to seek compensation for your injuries.


I was assaulted at work by a customer, due to this I hurt my neck, shoulder and knee. I have been off for 3 weeks due to muscle and ligament pain.
Would this fall on my employer due to duty of care? As I work in McDonald’s and it happened asking a customer to do the track and trace, I was the only staff member for that department.

Ian Morris

It is unlikely that your employer is liable or negligent in this scenario as the injuries you have sustained were caused through an act of criminal assault. However, we can assist with a claim and our specialist Solicitors will evaluate whether there is any realistic prospect of pursuing the employer or whether your claim would need to be made to the criminal injuries compensation authority.

Please use the form on the ‘start your claim for compensation‘ page of our website so that we can further help you with this.


I was a regular VDU user in my previous role with Mitie Facilities management. Despite several requests re eye care vouchers and help with the purchase of spectacles none was forthcoming. I have recently been to the opticians and my eye sight has deteriorated. Eye care vouchers and glasses are requirement for companies employees who use VDUs regularly, this is specified by the HSE. Can I claim against Mitie as they have not provided what I am legally entitled to? The office (portacabin) I was based in also did not have suitable lighting. No diffusers were present on the fluorescent tubes contributing to eye strain.


Until recently, I worked in the Aviation Industry for over 15 years but am now redundant. However, in January of 2020 I was diagnosed with having had a TIA (Mini stroke) which I believe was a culmination of unnecessary work pressure and avoidable risks that my previous employer was aware of, during 2019.
Am I in a position to pursue a claim of negligence at the workplace, or a disregard of duty of care?

Ian Morris

We can seek advice for you from our specialist Solicitors who could consider this matter for you. The likely problem that springs to mind is one of causation. That is establishing a causal link between the TIA and the stressful situation in your place of work the year beforehand.


I work as clinical support worker. I reported a work related injury to my charge nurse which was caused by me working along side a dementia patient and during their care, I asked to be referred to occupational health on a few occasions. Eventually I said that I’m worried the injury may cause me to have to go on sick leave and the charge nurse just kept on making excuses and never referred. She me kept putting me on long shifts (and night shifts) and now three months later, I’m of work with shoulder pain and I have been told by the hospital that the injury is ‘wear and tear’ due to my work.

This has cause me mental anxiety and physical pain, for which a Doctor now has referred me on my sick line. I need physio for the injury and also counselling for anxiety issues. On phoning I reminded the employer that I had asked 4 months ago for help and they admitted that they know the situation is work related.

I’m so disheartened that there was no duty of care to me. Also I haven’t been provided with training on manual handling and I have never seen the charge nurse document this in any accident book or ask me to sign for the incident. There was other nurses who were present at the time it was reported and on occasions I have asked for a referral to occupational health for the pain. It is now getting worse due to working on long shifts.

Ian Morris

You may have grounds to pursue a claim against your employer for their failure to address your concerns and provide reasonable adjustments and occupational health involvement despite your warning them of the issue.

If you would like to speak with our Solicitors about this and seek their advice regarding a potential claim for compensation, please call us on 01225430285.


I had a slip accident in a supermarket. I hurt my thigh, hand/wrist, shoulder and collar bone. I received a friction burn to my knee.
However, the staff of the store offered me no assistance, no First Aid, didn’t speak to me at all.
I returned the next day and asked for the incident to be entered into the store accident book. I was told that they didn’t have one, but that they entered details into the company’s online accident reporting system.
The duty manager- who had also witnessed the accident and cleaned up the spillage – took very scant notes and not my phone number or email address. I subsequently requested a copy of the accident report which they sent me – which was, unsurprisingly, very poor.

Did the store have a Duty of Care to me as a customer to make sure that I was alright (not concussed, nothing broken)?

Is there any requirement to have an accident book on site? Is there any required time duration when the accident should be written into the accident book and what details need to be included?

(They have admitted liability to the accident itself.)


Ian Morris

There is no requirement to have a physical ‘accident book’ on site and their online method of recording the details of any customer involved in an accident is perfectly reasonable. Indeed, it could be seen as a better way of recording incident details as there is less opportunity for an accident record to ‘go missing’.

The duty of care issue you raise is not one that holds a legal liability, but morally they should certainly have afforded you some respect, checked on you and asked what, if any assistance you felt you may need.

There is certainly the potential to pursue a claim for compensation for the injuries you sustained and this is a matter our specialist Solicitors would be happy to assist you with on a No Win No Fee basis.


Hi. I fell on a wet floor at the company I work for and broke my hip. There were ‘Wet Floor’ signs in the corridor outside the bathrooms where I fell, and where I was working cleaning door handles, but the signs were always there, whether the floor was wet or not: they were never stored, just left out permanently. I have a genetic disability (that the employer is aware of) that means I have very weak bones and I’m unsteady on my feet: I may now be wheelchair bound for life. Will the presence of signage hinder my claim? My disability means I am extra prone to slipping, even if I am careful and aware of the wet surface which in this case I wasn’t: does that mean the employer owes me a duty of care to not put me in such a dangerous situation? Thank you.

Ian Morris

As per the contents of this page of our website, the provision of a hazard warning sign doesn’t in and of itself absolve the employer (or any other party) from liability should someone then slip on a slipping hazard. In this case, as the signs were always out, their value would have been undermined as none of the staff would have associated them as indicating a present risk of injury.


My daughter was thrown from a horse at her part time job at a dealers yard, she was badly hurt, broken knee , severed ligament and bleeding kidneys. She asked for an ambulance and the dealer refused her plea she begged him 5 times. And was refused. And indeed asked to get back on the horse. It’s not the first young girl who has been injured up there. She now can’t walk, can’t work. Does she have a claim?

Ian Morris

There could well be a valid claim against your daughters employers. All employers have a duty of care to ensure that all staff, whether part time, full-time or even temporary, are afforded proper training and that the risk of injury in the workplace is minimised. Even in workplaces where the inherent risks posed by the nature of the work are higher.

It would be a prudent move to speak with us on the phone or via email so that our team can get some additional information that would help us to further evaluate the prospect of succeeding with a claim against the employer.


Hi, I tripped over a parking pole that was on the councils road but was apparently put there by a resident, who admitted putting there but has took it up, the council say he didn’t have permission. But the thing is there are more poles down my road that are the same and the council know about them but haven’t took them down. I seriously hurt my knees and still have problems in one. The council said it’s not their fault so wont give me compensation. I have photos and the response from the council’s insurers doesn’t add up. Please can you help as I feel the council have a duty of care. There is a parking problem down my street so people can’t walk on the pavement. That’s why I had to walk in the road.

Ian Morris

Please email your photographs, council response and a detailed explanation of the accident and injuries (including date and time) to our team via: so that we can consider this matter further and assist you with advice regarding a potential claim for compensation.


I slipped on a busy street. The road is tree lined and it had been raining so the pavement was slippy. My foot went out from under me and I landed on my coccyx. I’m badly bruised and in pain. Would the council have duty of care to ensure the pavement isn’t like an ice rink when it’s raining???

Ian Morris

As long as the surface of the pavement is well maintained and free from holes, loose slabs or other tripping hazards, the council would not be liable should someone suffer an unfortunate slip due to rain water or leaves on the pavement.

Sadly, in the case you describe, it would not appear that there has been any negligence and therefore, our initial view is that you are not able to make a claim against the local council.


Hi I am currently off work with STT joint osteoarthritis in my right wrist, I have had 2 steroid injections over the past 4 months which have not helped, the specialist (NHS) I have been seeing has indicated that this condition had flair up due to an extra work load over a 3 week period leading up to my work absence since October last year. I had an MRI on Monday which confirmed this condition and how it has worsened. This injury has happened at my work as a Technician at a Construction College, I have been there around 6 years and have never seen a risk assessment for using the Pan Mixer for making Mortar or any anyone from the College H&S team to inform of any risks that might be involved while using this machine. The resulting problem with my wrist has developed over a number of years of repetitive and heavy lifting movements which now require Surgery to alleviate the pain and regain some movement in the damaged joint. I believe the College has failed in their Duty of Care in regards to the condition I now find myself in. Is this something that can be looked at in regards to an Injury claim? Would appreciate any help on this matter. Regards


Hi. I know this may be an unusual question but I hope you will be able to help.
If someone engages a solicitor to run a personal injury claim does the solicitor have a ‘duty of care’ to that client? In short, I am nearing the end of a claim which has not been dealt with or progressed very well at all and as a result I have had to point out a few times over the last 6 months or so that I am frustrated, anxious and stressed. I even used the internal complaint service when I was lied to by my claims handler (I won’t go into details but it can be proven) and I felt they were unnecessarily delaying the progress of my case. When the matter was looked into I received a letter which did not even address the main issue! More recently there have been severe unnecessary delays and mistakes made which have caused a great deal of stress. So much so that I have been diagnosed with a particular skin disorder that is stress related and I believe directly attributed to the (mis)handling of my case.
My case is days away from completion now and I will be making a formal complaint to the CEO of this major company but I wanted to ask the ‘duty of care’ question. If I am not satisfied with the outcome of that letter then I will either contact the Legal Ombudsman or may take legal action!
Many thanks for your help and also many thanks for the great service you provide in answering questions – for many people it is very helpful.

Ian Morris

Solicitors do indeed have a duty of care towards their client. They must act in the best interests of their client and ensure that their work is of a high standard on behalf of the claimant.


I have been harassed and bullied at work. I raised my concerns with my team leader and then my manager and finally broke down in front of HR and was signed off work with work related stress. That was 7 weeks ago and still nothing has been done about the problem. I have been sent porn and anti Jewish texts from the bully as well as problems in work. I was told not to raise a grievance by my line manager and my team leader said I don’t want to get involved when I tried to show him a print out of what had been sent.
I have sent emails to HR addressing the bullying they told me to fill in a stress risk assessment which I have done. I have never been made aware of our harassment and bullying procedures (it was mentioned in the stress risk assessment).
I have the texts I was sent. I love my job but can’t work with that man again, I was too afraid to talk to him directly about it, so went to my manager. I explained his behaviour was becoming worrying and hoped that would be enough. It wasnt. He just said everyone knows what my co worker is like, but if it came down to it, I would be moved as my co worker ‘couldn’t survive anywhere else’.
Do I have grounds for failing duty of care because I am now left with anxiety, depression and paranoia?

Ian Morris

Potentially, you do have grounds for a claim against your employer. Claims of this nature require expert consideration by a qualified specialist and we can present your enquiry to them in order that they can advise you properly.

Chat with us for friendly, expert advice 01225 430285