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The ‘Act of God’ Defence

Hurricane Irma saw winds of up to 185mph causing widespread and catastrophic damage particularly in parts of the north-eastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys.

Here in the UK, we experienced Storm Aileen, our first named storm of the year. There was no connection between the high winds the UK experienced and the severe weather in the Caribbean and the US, but we did see our storm peak with winds of up to 83mph recorded causing damage and travel disruption.

There is the potential for injuries to people as a result of trees falling or slates coming off rooves.

Have you got grounds for a claim?


You cannot claim for all types of accidents. For some accidents there are defences. It is possible that an injury caused by a falling roof slate in a storm or a tree falling on your car whilst you are driving will not be grounds for a claim to succeed. There may be an ‘Act of God’ Defence.

However there may be grounds in the following situations:

  • If a tree was rotten and should have been inspected by the local authority or landowner, you may be able to argue that they have been negligent in not removing it before the storm.
  • If there had been warnings about the storm and the owner of a property had not tied down items that could blow away in a storm, you could say that they were negligent and you may be able to pursue a claim against them.
  • If a property has been poorly maintained and, as a result of a storm, slates flew off the roof, you could say that the lack of maintenance was the reason for this and you may then be able to pursue a claim.

The success of a case depends on its specific circumstances and it is recommended that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified lawyer.

WSP Solicitors

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to WSP Solicitors directly.

Published on 7th November 2017
(Last updated 21st March 2018)

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