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Compensation claims progressed in spite of lockdown upheaval

Covid-19 restrictions brought the need for an alternative approach to negotiating compensation claims, says Rachel Russell.

A substantial part of the country’s utility infrastructure relies on large networks of pipes and cables that pass across or under privately owned land.

When it’s time for essential services to be upgraded, replaced or renewed, it’s important that the owners or occupiers have their rights properly represented. This is just as true during the challenging times we have witnessed this year as at any other time.

The opportunity to have face-toface site meetings was limited, but evidence was still required to substantiate losses so that land owners and occupiers could be fairly compensated.

Many people with an interest in land were due compensation for losses incurred this summer, whether it was a subsequent year claim or compensation due as a result of a recent road, rail or utility related scheme.

Compensation would normally be negotiated and agreed on-site, but as this was not possible, evidence was key.

Modern technology meant there was no need for negotiations and settlement to be put on hold until restrictions eased. By facilitating “site meetings” over video calls or progressing negotiations with video and photographic evidence, compensation claims on the whole continued to be negotiated while the Covid-19 restrictions were in place, ensuring that claimants weren’t out of pocket due to delays in face-to-face meetings.

The circumstances witnessed this year are unprecedented, but the need for supporting evidence to back up a compensation claim is not a new concept, rather its importance has been heightened.

The benefits of communication technologies apply in the rural sector as much as anywhere – more so perhaps.

We urge anyone who proposes to raise a compensation claim to engage the other side and start collating supporting evidence early on as a matter of course, not only in 2020 but in the future too.