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Joshua
Joshua, Laywer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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A Company is making a county court claim against me for money

Resolved Question:

A Company is making a county court claim against me for money i owed them for purchase of stock.
However I traded with this company for 4 years and having a credit line.
They stopped my supply promtly and asked for all the money back £3,000.
Even though they messed up my account I offered them a £200 over payment with every order I make.
I sent them £800 for £600 of stock, then sent them £750 but they never sent the stock.
They said the accounts WILL NOT send the stock.
Suddenly after Trying to get them to honour the deal I get a letter from Euler Hermes ( Debt Collector)
The Collectors chased me for wrong amount. I asked them to send me proof of how I owe the money. They failed on every occassion. The county claim now has the correct amount but for wrong trading range. The impact of this is much bigger which will become evident later.
Have I got a legal case? And I already sent acknoledgement with intent to defend.
How much detail should I put on defence. Help please. What is my best outcome likely to be?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

Do you have a copy of the credit terms offered to you please?

Customer:

No

Joshua :

OK. Would you like me to proceed on the basis of information regarding credit terms generally on that basis and the likely position here?

Customer:

Yes Please, but during the dispute I was told that 90 days old Accounts get passed to collectors

Joshua :

thank you. A company is free to offer credit terms to its customers in respect of individual orders that customer places. generally, the company is free to alter its credit terms from one order to the next unless there are provisions that provide that a minimum notice period will be given though such terms are rare. Normally, a company would be free to alter its credit terms for each new order it receives as it sees fit however having accepted an order on particular credit terms, it cannot then subsequently alter those credit terms that have been agreed - i.e. if it is accepted in order 90 day credit terms, it cannot then a week later change this to 30 days credit terms

Joshua :

accordingly, if you placed orders with the company and the agreed credit terms for those orders, normally the company would be bound by those credit terms and would only be able to seek payment after the credit period has passed.

Joshua :

However, in respect of future orders not yet accepted by the company, the company would normally be free to alter its terms for those new orders - i.e. it could insist the new order is placed on 30 day terms or insist that payment is made before delivery

Joshua :

accordingly, the position as to whether they have a potential claim against you here depends upon whether the date(s) for payment being due under the credit terms offered to you by the supplier for the respective invoice is concerned have yet come around. they cannot seek to claim for invoice which payment terms have not yet fallen due.

Joshua :

equally however, you cannot insist that they supply you on terms other than those they are prepared to offer for any new orders. In fact companies free to decline to supply a customer at all unless there is a supply contract in place

Customer:

Agreed but by not applying my two cash payments to my account, they allowed my account to go over 90 days and by the time they decided to aplly the amount 2 months later everything was behind.

Joshua :

I see - could you clarify precisely what these cash payments were for and what they did with them if not apply them to your account?

Customer:

£800 cleared fund payment made 15/08/2013, £600 for stock and £200 to come off the baXXXXX XXXXXke agreed.

Joshua :

Thanks so was this for a new order you had placed for £600?

Customer:

Yes

Joshua :

So what did they do with your £200 overpayment. The £600 was obviously used to pay for the new goods invoice?

Customer:

Not sure

Customer:

However When I asked what would happen to the 90 days I was told all the time we are reducing the credi this way they will forget the 90 day rule.

Joshua :

Thank you - do you have that assurance in writing?

Customer:

Even so shouldn't any payments made be applied to oldest invoice first?

Customer:

Unfortunatily no, when I did ask if they will keep to this deal and have it in writing, they told me they are a reputable company and they would go back on their word

Customer:

(would NOT go back on their word)

Customer:

Also £750 payment was made same as above on 18/0/9/2013. Two days later they said accounts would not send stock. Asked to return money if no stock will be sent, they said no. Asked to speak to boss, not available, asked for company's secretary Contact number. Instantly Tahir went mad and I overheard someone saying take him to court.

Joshua :

Thanks. the position with regards XXXXX XXXXX County Court claim in the circumstances will be that they are likely to have a good claim in respect of monies owed under the credit terms which were agreed for the individual respective invoices concerned unless they admit to their assurance with regards XXXXX XXXXX 90 day waiver they offered you.

Joshua :

however, if they are seeking interest or penalties which would not have been incurred at for their failure to apply monies to your account as agreed, you can raise a defence in respect of such penalties or interest on the above basis

Joshua :

could you just bear with me for a few moments-I have just had to take a telephone call...

Joshua :

My apologies for the interruption. As to how you decide to proceed depends upon what you want to achieve. Based upon what you have said, I cannot see that you have a strong defence in respect of payment of the sums due under previous invoices credit terms where payment has fallen due. if they accept that they agreed to waive the 90 day payment terms and that you could repay on an instalment basis then you could seek the defence on this basis but all they need do is deny memory of that agreement and it would be your word against theirs. If they will not accept that agreement then your defence would appear to be limited to any charges or penalties they have applied to your account without justification and you could seek to put them to proof in respect of any charges and penalties they have applied by reference to the terms and conditions and payments you can demonstrate you have made

Joshua :

if you choose to enter a defence, your defence should be succinct but include the reasons you consider you are not liable for parts of their claim and the evidence in support of those reasons.

Joshua :

e.g. penalty x was applied to my account without contractual basis in under the terms and conditions agreed or penalty x was applied to my account for failure to pay but evidence of payment is attached.

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Yes please, surely any Payments I made should have been applied to the oldest account first?

Customer:

My account would have never gone beyond the 90 days.

Joshua :

If you specify what a payment is being paid for then common law rules require that that payment is applied to the debt you specify. If you do not specify what money must be used for then they can apply it either a) in accordance with any terms or policy the maintain or b) in default of which as they see fit. on the basis you have specified how the money should have been applied, and can if necessary show this, then the money must be used on the basis you specify or returned to you

Customer:

I can prove all dates and transactions, so I may have some case?

Customer:

Also when Collection agency first made a claim against me the total balance exluded my £1,550 payments but included their £600 invoice. I think the Judge would want to know why.

Joshua :

in respect of any penalties or costs or interest claimed, certainly you may have a defence. In addition, clearly where you have made payments against your account and those have not been taken into account, you have a defence in respect of those payments on the basis you can demonstrate they have been paid. Generally, you can put the claimant to strict proof in respect of accounting to you with regards XXXXX XXXXX debt claimed- by putting them to strict proof, it places the onus upon them to produce evidence demonstrating any monies they claim are owed by you. in this case, presumably it would be a statement of your account together with associated invoices

Joshua :

is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

Which every time they sent statements failed to verify the amounts

Joshua :

Quite. If they can't adduce evidence that on the balance of probability demonstrates that you owe a debt, they claim will fail. As above, in your defence, you can "put them to strict proof" in respect of any claim they make which places the onus upon them to produce evidence in this respect

Customer:

On my initial defence should I make just 4 or 5 main points or should I go very detailed on everything? Maybe 20 30 points

Joshua :

on your initial defence, any point which demonstrates why you should not be paying particular some the other party claims should be included. There is no need to include points which do not specifically relate to your liability for a particular sum of money not being owed by you and including other extraneous information can sometimes reduce the effectiveness of your principal points as they can be lost in the detail where judges are busy wading through many claims. It is therefore best to keep your defence succinct and to the point and you may consider using a series of numbered succinct paragraphs

Joshua :

if you feel necessary to include more information at a later date, you can submit a "further statement of defence" either in response to the claimant's reply to your defence or on your initiative

Customer:

Thank you very much. You are a genius.

Joshua :

A pleasure though I wouldn't go nearly that far! Thank you. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though.

Customer:

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX will.

Joshua :

Best wishes

Customer:

Goodnight

Joshua :

And to you.

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