Problems are almost always caused by the cleaner’s failure to explain the risks involved in processing the order.

In some cases an acrimonious situation arises because the customer does not own the item at risk, although the cleaner may not realise this.

However it is important that the cleaner gives a correct and full explanation of the risk when issuing a disclaimer. If for example, there is no care label, simply stating that the garment will have to be cleaned at the owners’ risk is unacceptable. In the event of the customer going to litigation, the chances are that the cleaner would be held responsible.

Blanket disclaimers displayed in the shop relating to belts, buttons or buckles for example, will not allow the cleaner to avoid responsibility.

Cleaners must, at all times, handle their customers’ clothes professionally and competently. If there is a potential problem, it must be brought to the attention of the customer and fully explained with an owner’s risk form being completed at the discretion of the cleaner. In the case of higher value items the form should always record the specific risks so the customer can sign that the risks have been brought to their attention and explained correctly.

However, it should be understood that in the unlikely event of the customer reneging on the agreement, the court might only accept a form prepared by a solicitor – this could be a lengthy and difficult process.

The website of the Guild of Cleaners & Launderers includes an owner’s risk form for members to download.