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How To Sue A Restaurant For An Allergy In The UK – How To Claim Compensation For Food Allergic Reaction Guide

By Mark Ainsdale. Last Updated 16th August 2021. Welcome to this article that explores how to sue a restaurant for an allergy. This is a complete guide to suing a restaurant for allergy in the UK. If you live with an allergy, you already know that you often have to depend on other people to inform you of the allergen content of food items. If a person working in a restaurant or food outlet gives you the wrong information, and you suffer an allergic reaction due to it, then you could be able to sue for damages at restaurants and takeaways. This guide aims at educating people about how to claim.

If you have questions or need information that isn’t included in this guide, please speak to one of the Legal Expert claims advisors on 0800 073 8804 today. They will be able to help you.

Suing restaurant for allergy

Suing restaurant for allergy

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What Are Allergic Reactions?

A food allergy occurs when a person’s body wrongly sees the proteins in a specific type of food to be a toxin. The body’s immune system kicks in, acting as if the person has been poisoned. The symptoms of a food allergy can range from trivial to lethal. However, generally, the symptoms will be only moderate and could include any of the following:

  • Itching or burning sensation in the throat, lips, ears or mouth.
  • An itchy red rash.
  • Swelling, from minor to severe.
  • Nausea, sickness and vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Stomach cramps.

However, a medical condition is far worse than a simple allergic reaction if a person encounters a sufficiently high concentration of the allergen they are allergic to. This is called anaphylaxis. It has other names, such as anaphylactic shock and also toxic shock syndrome. This is a life-threatening condition. A person suffering from anaphylaxis will become unconscious and eventually die if they do not receive medical treatment quickly. The NHS has published some excellent, detailed information that specifically covers food allergies. You can find it at this link:

NHS guide to food allergies

What Can Cause You To Have An Allergic Reaction In A Restaurant?

To answer the question, I told the restaurant staff about my food allergy; what must they do about it? And with their answers as your evidence, you’re also wondering how to sue a restaurant for an allergy. We need to take a look at what causes an allergic reaction. The most common allergies are to wheat, dairy and nut products.

If you are served food that contains even a trace of the allergen that you are allergic to, this could, of course, cause a reaction. Unfortunately, many food chains do not give full details of the composition of every item on the menu. Others use misdirection or omission. Most of the time, the very small trace amounts of the allergen that have not been listed fail to cause any reaction at all. But sometimes they do, and in these cases, you could well be able to claim against the restaurant operator.

How To Sue A Restaurant In The UK

When it comes to claiming compensation for an allergic reaction, the case usually revolves around the legislation set out in the Food Information for Consumers Act. This legislation came into play in 2014. Since then, every food vendor has been required to list any potential allergen content (more on this in the next section).

Failure to comply with these legal obligations, causing harm to a customer due to them suffering an allergic reaction, would be seen as entirely valid grounds for making a compensation claim. These laws are aimed squarely at ensuring that UK consumers are protected from potential allergen threats. Compliance is not optional. The majority of claims for an allergic reaction are due to a food vendor breaching these regulatory requirements.

What Is The Time Limit To Sue A Restaurant For An Allergic Reaction?

If you are eligible to claim for an allergic reaction, you must initiate legal proceedings within the limitation period. Per the Limitation Act 1980, this is generally three years from the date of the incident. 

However, in certain circumstances there are time limit exceptions. These include: 

  • Those who lack the mental capacity to bring forward their own claim. These parties have the time limit suspended for as long as they are unable to start legal proceedings on their own. During this time, a court-appointed litigation friend can begin the claiming process on their behalf. However, if the injured party regains this capacity and a claim was not made for them, they will have three years from the date their capacity was recovered to bring forward a claim. 
  • Those under the age of 18. These parties have the time limit frozen until their 18th birthday. Before this date, a litigation friend can file the claim for them. However, if they turn 18 and a litigation friend did not act for them, they will have three years from the date of their 18th birthday to begin the claiming process. 

Our advisors can help with your question, ‘can you sue a restaurant for a food allergy?’ by providing you with a free claim assessment, including checking to make sure you are within the time limits.

What Foods Are Restaurants Legally Obliged To Inform Customers About?

Most compensation claims for an allergic reaction are due to a restaurant, café, or other food outlets and food distributors failing to comply with the Food Information for Consumers Act. This legislation clearly states that all food must be labelled, showing whether it contains any of the 14 primary allergens. These are:

  • Sulphur dioxide.
  • Gluten.
  • Celery.
  • Crustaceans.
  • Milk.
  • Fish.
  • Eggs.
  • Mustard.
  • Nuts.
  • Lupin.
  • Peanuts.
  • Soybeans.
  • Sesame seeds.
  • Molluscs.

If the food contains any of these allergens, it must be labelled to show it. Foods that contain chemicals and compounds extracted from one of these allergen groups must show the allergen name. It cannot only list the chemical name. For example, if a food contains oil extracted from soybeans, it must be labelled as “contains soybeans”.

Your Rights Under Civil Law – The Consumer Protection Act

We have already covered the Food Information for Consumers Act in the two sections above and how it relates to people who suffer allergic reactions. However, there is a further legal framework in the UK, which applies in allergy claim cases.

This is the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Under these regulations, the onus is on food manufacturers to provide simple, easy-to-read and understand, robust labels that will not fall off or become damaged easily. If they did, then a person may not be warned of the allergen content. And if they aren’t warned, and it causes harm to the person with an allergy to the food in the packaging, then the food manufacturer could be deemed negligent. If this were the case, they would then be liable to pay damages to the person harmed due to this negligence. You can find some excellent information about these laws on the UK Government website at this link:

UK Government information on the Consumer Protection Act 1987

What Makes You Eligible To Sue A Restaurant?

There are two main reasons why you could be able to make an allergy compensation claim against a restaurant for the harm they have caused you, and these are:

  1. The serving staff gave you the wrong information – in this case, you would have clearly asked one of the serving staff whether a particular dish on the restaurant menu contained a specific allergen. For example, if you were to ask if a certain cereal contained gluten. The serving staff would have responded with a negative answer, stating the dish was gluten-free. You would then have suffered an allergic reaction to gluten, as the food actually did contain this allergen. This is the tougher of the two types of claims, as you would need to prove that the serving staff actually gave you the wrong information. Generally, this would require a witness to the event who can give testimony to support your claim. You would also need a sample of the food if possible.
  2. The menu gave you the wrong information – in this case, the restaurant menu would clearly state that a specific dish doesn’t contain a certain allergen. To use the same example as above, it might say that a dish is “gluten-free”. The customer would order the dish, only to have an allergic reaction to gluten content in the dish. This is much easier to prove. You would need to keep a copy of the menu, showing where it states “gluten-free” and a sample of the food if possible.

Further details

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to make a food allergy claim against a restaurant, you can speak to one of the Legal Expert claims advisors on the contact number down at the bottom of this guide. Explain what has happened and how you came to harm. They will then tell you whether you have a valid reason to make a claim or not. All of this should help as you wonder how to sue a restaurant for an allergy.

How Is My Right To Claim Affected If I Didn’t Tell The Restaurant About My Allergy?

The situation here is a little grey. Taking the two examples in the section above, if you suffer a reaction to food marked on the menu as not containing the allergen you are allergic to, then telling the serving staff about your allergy would have made no difference. You would still have an entirely viable reason to make a claim.

However, people with an allergy are expected to help take care of themselves. This means carrying their anti-allergenic medication and discussing food choices with serving staff to exclude allergens from their diet. If they fail to do either and come to harm, they would be seen to be partially contributing to their own problem. In this case, the restaurant would negotiate reduced liability with the claimant’s legal team. This would hurt the amount of compensation the person is awarded.

This is a complex situation and one that you would do well to get legal advice on. Legal Expert is happy to offer you some free legal guidance in this regard. Please speak to one of our claims experts on the telephone number you will find down at the bottom of the page; they will be able to help you further. If they believe you have a valid claim, we can act as your personal injury solicitor and process it for you.

What Damages Are You Entitled To When Suing A Restaurant For An Allergy In The UK?

When a personal injury lawyer successfully processes a compensation claim for you, the settlement you receive will be made up of several different types of damages. These types of damages fall under two main headings of special damages, which compensate the claimant for financial and ad-hoc losses, and general damages, which compensate the claimant for physical harm. Typical types of damages could include:

Special damages

  • Care costs – to compensate you for the expense of hiring a nurse or somebody to help clean and maintain your home.
  • Private medical fees – to compensate for out of pocket expenses to pay for medical treatment not available on the NHS.
  • Travel costs – to compensate you for the cost of any journeys you had to make either to get medical treatment or related to making a claim.
  • Loss of income – if your ability to earn money will be permanently affected.
  • Loss of earnings – if you missed out on your wages or salary, even partially, due to taking time away from work.

General damages

  • Mental trauma – for having to go through a shocking and frightening allergic reaction.
  • Pain and suffering – of the reaction itself and also any pain caused by emergency treatment.
  • Psychological damage – such as developing new phobias, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Painful recovery period – if you have to spend some time recuperating and are forced to undergo painful or uncomfortable medical treatment in the long-term.
  • Loss of life quality – if you will be left with a permanent or long-term disability, that will hurt the quality of your life.

These are the typical types of damages that a settlement could comprise. There are more, though. If you would like to know which types of damages might apply in your own case, speak to one of the Legal Expert claims team on the contact number below.

UK Restaurant Allergic Reaction Personal Injury Claims Calculator

What you won’t find anywhere on this page is an online personal injury claims calculator. We believe that these kinds of tools are too inaccurate, as every claim is different. We prefer to give hard facts. The table below shows typical ranges of compensation paid for different levels of allergic reaction. It is based on data taken from the UK judicial guidelines for establishing the worth of a claim.

Harm Suffered Details JCG Bracket
Brain Damage – Moderate (ii) Injured parties in this bracket suffer with moderate to modest intellectual deficits with a reduced ability to work and some epilepsy risk. £90,720 to £150,110
Lung Damage The claimant suffers with breathing difficulties that require the fairly frequent use of an inhaler and effects on their social and working life. £31,310 to £54,830
Digestive System – Non Traumatic Illness (i) The claimant has suffered a reaction causing acute pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. This required a hospital stay for some days or weeks with some continuing symptoms that impact their ability to work and enjoy life. £38,430 to £52,500
Digestive System – Non Traumatic Illness (ii) The claimant has suffered short-term but serious diarrhoea and vomiting for 2-4 weeks. There remains some discomfort and bowel functioning disturbance along with an impact on their sex life and food enjoyment. £9,540 to £19,200
Digestive System – Non Traumatic Illness (iii) The claimant has suffered significant discomfort, stomach cramps, bowel function alteration and fatigue with a hospital stay. £3,950 to £9,540
Digestive System – Non Traumatic Illness (iv) The claimant has suffered varying degrees of pain, cramps and diarrhoea over the course of some days or weeks. £910 to £3,950
Dermatitis (a) The claimant experiences skin cracking and soreness which affects their employment and domestic capability. There may be some psychological consequences with symptoms lasting years. £13,740 to £19,200
Dermatitis (b) The claimant experiences dermatitis lasting for a significant period. However it settles with treatment or the use of gloves. £8,640 to £11,410
Dermatitis (c) In this bracket, the claimant suffers itching, irritation and rashes, but these symptoms resolve within a few months of treatment. £1,710 to £3,950

If you would like a much more accurate estimate of just how much you might be able to claim in compensation, please speak to one of the Legal Expert claims teams on the number below. They will be able to give you a more accurate idea of how much you could potentially claim. And it should also provide further information about how to sue a restaurant for an allergy.

No Win No Fee Claims Against A Restaurant For An Allergic Reaction

Here at Legal Expert, we have come up with a financially risk-free way for you to have your claim processed. We can take your claim under a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that there is no fee to start your claim and no fee while we process your claim, even if it takes months. If you don’t win any compensation, you still won’t pay a fee. If you do receive a settlement, we will deduct our fee from the money we receive for you and then give you the rest.

How To Sue A Restaurant For An Allergy – How We Can Help You To Claim Compensation

Legal Expert can help you to reach a food allergy lawsuit settlement. We leverage our significant skills and experience to ensure that you have the best chance possible of your claim being successful. We will also try to ensure that you win the maximum amount of compensation possible. To learn more about the service we offer, speak to one of our claims advisors on the number below today.

How To Get In Touch With Legal Expert

Have you suffered an allergic reaction due to the actions of a third party? Do you think that you might have a valid reason to make a personal injury claim? If so, speak to one of the Legal Expert claims team on 0800 073 8804 now. Once they know a little about your claim, they will offer you some free legal advice on how to proceed.

Where To Find Out More About How To Sue A Restaurant For An Allergy

Here are the informational links that we embedded in the guide above, just in case you missed them while you were reading it:

NHS guide to food allergies

UK Government information on the Consumer Protection Act 1987

There are more guides on this site that you might find relate to your claim as well, such as:

How to claim compensation from a restaurant

A general guide to food allergy claims

A guide to claiming professional negligence

We also have guides on claiming for the following:



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