Dry Cleaning

You have put your best dress into the dry cleaners and when you go to pick it up it has been ruined.

What does the law say?

When you have clothes or other items dry cleaned the law says that the dry cleaning must be:-

  • Carried out with reasonable care and skill
  • Finished in a reasonable time
  • Provided at a reasonable cost

Remember:-

  • Keep your dry cleaning ticket
  • Dry cleaning may highlight existing wear and tear
  • Dry cleaning may not remove all stains

You do have rights if the dry cleaning is unsatisfactory:-

  • If the item is poorly cleaned you can ask for a refund but if the dry cleaner offers to clean the item again it would be reasonable to allow them to do this.

You may be entitled to compensation if:-

  • The contract has been broken and the cleaning was not carried out with reasonable care and skill or finished within a reasonable time at a reasonable price
  • The dry cleaner has been negligent and the item has been damaged
  • You have accepted a re-clean or a repair and but the problem has not been solved

The amount of compensation will depend on the seriousness of the breach of contract. If the item is totally ruined your compensation would be based on the value of the item but a deduction can be made to allow for the use you have had.

How to solve your problem:-

  • Check the fault is not the result of normal wear and tear
  • Contact the dry cleaner straight away
  • If you cannot agree on what caused the fault find out whether the firm is a member of the Textile Services Association who offer an informal conciliation service
  • If the dry cleaner is not a member of the TSA an expert opinion can be obtained from a Test House specialising in this area. You need to write to the dry cleaner and agree which expert will be used and that you will both be bound by the expert’s findings
  • If you have obtained evidence but the difficulty remains then you should write to the dry cleaner reiterating your complaint and advising them they have fourteen days to resolve matters or you will consider legal action. Send your letter by recorded delivery and make sure you keep copies of all correspondence.
  • If the dry cleaner makes an offer, think about it carefully and be realistic. You may not get a better offer by going to court.
  • If the dry cleaner does not reply to your letters or refuses to do anything, your only choice is to go to court.  Court however should be your last resort. Before going to court you will need to have sufficient evidence to prove the dry cleaner was responsible for the fault and be assured  the dry cleaner is solvent.

If you have lost money on dry cleaning don’t waste more money on a case you cannot win.

Book Review – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage

I always think that when you are watching TV what you see looks like what it physically represents. A woman looks likes a woman, a woman with blond hair looks like a woman with blond hair and a woman with blond hair and a tattoo of a butterfly looks like a woman with blond hair with a tattoo of a butterfly. But when you read a book, what you see are black squiggles on paper or frequently now black pixels on a screen. To transform these icons into characters and events you must imagine. So it is in being read, that a book becomes a book and in each of ten different readings, a book becomes one of ten different books. For me therein lies the richness of reading.  It is what makes being part of a book group enjoyable, interesting and insightful.

Our book group seemed to fall by the wayside for a while but we are back up and running and last month we read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. This is a novel which you could love but one which some readers disliked. I happen to be one of the book’s fans.

The story begins with the arrival of an unexpected letter and an impulsive act. Harold Fry who has recently retired, lives with his wife Maureen in a small English town. Each morning Harold shaves, puts on a tie and sits in the same chair with nowhere to go. Maureen is irritated by nearly everything Harold does, even down to the way he butters his toast and she goes about her chores in sullen silence. Each day drifts into another, with Harold living in a state of emotionally numb passivity. Then one morning Harold receives a letter addressed to him in a shaky scrawl from Queenie Hennessey an old friend he has not seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie is in a hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a reply and sets off to post his letter to Queenie but instead of doing just that he embarks on a 600 mile journey from Kingsbridge to Berwick upon Tweed. He somehow believes that as long as he keeps walking Queenie will remain alive. So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or mobile phone Harold begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside.

Harold starts his walk drained by life, full of self loathing and incapable of mending his ruined marriage. Along the way he meets many strangers who stir up memories, causing Harold to have flashbacks of his inadequacy as a father and his short comings as a husband. But as he walks the characters he meets begin to unlock his dormant spirit and help him to regain a sense of promise.  Harold remembers his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day and his joy in fatherhood allowing him to reconcile his losses and regrets. As for Maureen she begins to find herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

The prose is clear and simple and the novel while sad is ultimately uplifting. The last chapters deliver a couple of unexpectedly savage emotional blows but this is tempered with a sense of quiet celebration. I thought the novel quirky, sad and bitter sweet.

However, for some the novel did not inspire. Some felt the plot absurd, contrived and ridiculous with the language boring, overly sentimental and a bit twee.

But all in all I would, along with most others, recommend it as a good read !

Scotland becomes 17th country to approve same-sex marriages.

This month Scotland voted overwhelmingly (105 to 18) to allow same sex marriages with the passing of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. This now just awaits Royal Assent. Since 2004 Civil Partnerships have been available for same sex couples but some gay organisations felt that until the same rights were available to both same sex and opposite sex couples Scottish society would remain inherently discriminatory to some of its citizens.

The move was opposed by the Scottish Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. However the new progressive legislation has put in place protections for religious bodies who do not wish to conduct same sex marriages although some other religious groups such as the Quakers  and Buddhists  back the change.

The Bill also includes provisions to allow belief ceremonies, such as humanist ceremonies as alternatives to religious and civil ceremonies. The Bill will further permit transgendered people to stay married-previously transgendered people had to divorce.

Scotland is the 17th country to approve same-sex marriages. The first was The Netherlands in 2001 and last year England and Wales, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand and France joined the list.

‘Miss Julie’ at The Citizens

On Friday night I was lucky enough to attend the opening night of Miss Julie at the Citizens Theatre. A few weeks ago my fiancé and I received a programme of the upcoming plays at the Citizens and my fiancé immediately picked out Miss Julie as a drama he was very keen to see. I think he was initially drawn to the fact that the role of Miss Julie was played by Louise Brealey who plays Molly in the BBC1 drama Sherlock.

Miss Julie, written by August Strindberg in 1888, is a play about the daughter of a wealthy mill owner and her interactions with her father’s servant (Jean) and the servant’s fiancée (Christine).

While Miss Julie’s father is away, the workers at his mill are on strike. Miss Julie has decided to go to a dance that has been organised by the striking workers. Jean, described as the mill owner’s favourite servant, has recently got engaged to the overworked cook, Christine. While Jean recounts the events of his evening to Christine it is impossible not to notice the number of times that Miss Julie’s name crops into the conversation.

The chemistry between Jean and Miss Julie is evident from the moment she appears unannounced in the servants’ quarters requesting Jean accompany her back to the party for a dance. An exhausted Christine cannot compete with the energy of Miss Julie, and soon falls asleep. Meanwhile, Jean and Miss Julie continue to drink and chat back in the servants’ quarters after the workers at the party turn on their boss’s daughter. There is a strange sense of unease as the balance of power shifts between the two characters. First Jean has the upper hand with his tales of Miss Julie’s unpopularity amongst the staff. Then Miss Julie has the power, putting Jean back in his place, reminding him of his status in the world.

After things between Jean and Miss Julie go a bit further, we see them struggle to plan what to do next: stay and face the music or hightail it out of there. Without spoiling the ending for anyone who has not seen the play, things come to a very shocking and dramatic end.

Yet again it was great to spend a night at the Citizens Theatre and to see another packed house.

Miss Julie is currently playing at The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. For more info please visit here http://citz.co.uk/whatson/info/miss_julie/

The Law and Electronic Signatures

The importance of contracts in our daily lives cannot be underestimated. In fact we enter into contracts so often that we sometimes don’t even notice we are doing so. We are contracting when we buy a train ticket, a pint of milk or a book. In other situations the contract will be the result of long and careful negotiation like buying a house or for example in the commercial field, when a local authority purchases a school. Given the materiality of contracts and the rapid rise in electronic media we must question whether the rules which were designed for paper and oral contracts still work for e-contracts.

The use of signatures in paper transactions has developed over many years. Manual signatures play three significant roles. They identify the signatory. They provide certainty as to the personal involvement of that person in the act of signing. They associate that person with the contents of the document. Parties to transactions receive comfort as to the authenticity and integrity of the transaction documents from the signatures, seals or other accepted marks applied to them.

Not surprisingly the challenge and commercial imperative for the success of e-commerce must be to find the electronic equivalent of the manual signature. With the continued development of technology and prevalence of e- commerce, parties increasingly require to be reassured that the use of electronic signatures will be recognised by law. So what is the legal position regarding electronic signatures?

At the moment in the UK the legislation covering this is the Electronic Communications Act 2000 and the Electronic Signatures Regulations 2002. However, in the consultation on the 2013 Regulations it was proposed that the law in Scotland regarding electronic signatures be brought into alignment with EU E- Signatures Directive 1999/93. This means that for an electronic document to gain the legal presumption of a signed and witnessed paper document, the signature used to sign the document must be an “advanced electronic signature” based on a qualified digital certificate. An electronic signature is an advanced electronic signature if it is:

  • Uniquely linked to the signatory
  • Capable of identifying the signatory
  • Created using means that the signatory can maintain under his sole control
  • Linked to the data to which it relates in such a manner that any subsequent change of the data is detectable.

Thereafter the identity of the individual using the advanced electronic signature will require to be verified by a certification authority who will then issue a digital certificate (signed with the certification authority’s own digital signature for authentication) which will confirm that the sender is who they claim to be. That digital certificate can then be appended to a message or a digital signature to confirm the identity of the sender.

In short electronic signatures based on digital certification provided by a certification authority will allow parties to rely on the validity of the signature. The electronic signature will be legally valid and admissible as evidence in legal proceedings in relation to any question as to the authenticity of the electronic communication or as to its integrity.

Change no doubt will be slow but electronic signatures will at sometime soon be commonplace.