Woman to sue hairdresser over three-inch bald patch

A woman is taking her hairdresser to court claiming thousands of pounds damages after suffering second degree burns in the first known case of its kind.

Nicola Crawley, 19, from the Midlands, who went to the hairdresser to have highlights put in her hair, was left with a three-inch bald patch.

She is taking her case to court in the hopes of recouping damages for pain and emotional suffering as well for as her damaged scalp, and for the cost of any cosmetic surgery, travel expenses to hospital and loss of earnings.

"When I finally got home my hair was all washed and cut and I felt some wet patches at the top, but I thought it was just some of the solution he had left on," said Ms Crawley. "It fact it was my head weeping. About a week later, a scab started to appear. I got a few red lines and a black scab appeared all around my hair. I went to the doctor and he said I had chemical burns ... they had actually burned my head and it was going to blister."

With a bald patch on the top of her head, her life has been confined, Ms Crawley said. "I can't go out with my hair down. I can't go swimming and I can't go out in the sun."

Her solicitor Brigitte Goff said: "If you look at the hair, she has got no hair growing back and unfortunately it is never going to grow back." She said that judicial guidelines stated that damages for pain and suffering alone in such a case carried a maximum of pounds 5,000 in damages. "But I think this is worth substantially more," she said.

Ms Crawley is believed to be looking at a five-figure compensation claim.

In order to claim compensation the hairdresser must be proved to have been negligent. However, hairdressers are becoming increasingly worried that as customers become aware of their rights, some people might take it too far.

Ms Goff, who will be appearing on the BBC's Watchdog programme tonight, disagrees. "What you must understand is that you can't sue just because you don't like your hairstyle ... But I believe that you should be able to sue a hairdresser just as you would sue a doctor or a solicitor if they had been negligent. If you have been injured and suffered loss you should be able to sue."

Last year, 500 people took action against their hairdressers. The UK is one of the few places in Europe where hairdressers can practice without training qualifications of registration.