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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Evidence requirements for a small claims court

Resolved Question:

I started a new plumbing business and paid an annual membership fee to be a member of a support and mentoring group called Stopcocks Ltd. Stopcocks membership gave access to an online private facebook group where stopcocks members could post comments and questions. I was removed from this group without warning after 8 months. One of the terms of membership says that if a member brings the stopcocks name into disrepute then they will be removed. No refund of any of the fees is given. I have submitted a claim to the small claims court in order to get a refund of the fees equivalent to 4 months, nearly £700. They are defending the claim saying that my conduct is considered to have brought Stopcocks into disrepute. They have not submitted any evidence to support their statements. Their statements are false. They have only submitted the terms and conditions in the defence statement they gave me and made 6 false or irrelevant statements as a reason to remove my membership. They removed me because they say that I brought them into disrepute. 1 - Are they required to provide evidence that I brought them into disrepute or can they simply say I did?

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts : Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : Is it simply a defence or a counter claim as well please?
Customer:

simply a defence. They make 6 statements about me which they use to justify their view of me being disruptive to the Stopcocks community and therefore being in fundamental repudiatory breach of their terms and conditions. One of their terms was

Customer:

No plumber will willingly cause harm, damage or distress to any householder. Plumbers agree that it is in the best interest to remove any plumber who is undesirable, dishonest, unreliable, not qualified (or working towards qualification) or otherwise brings the good name of Stopcocks and its members into disrepute or harms the development of our business.

Alex Watts :

Yes they would need to prove evidence.

Alex Watts :

If they are disputing and raising an issue they need to prove it

Alex Watts :

Does that clarify matters for you?

Alex Watts :

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Customer:

Will the evidence be available for me to see before the hearing? I have no idea what the evidence looks like or how to show that their statements are false or unreasonable.

Alex Watts :

Yes it has to be - they need to disclose it 14 days before the hearing or can not rely on it

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer:

Do I have to disclose to them what I am going to use to respond to thier evidence? I can only do that after I see what they have as evidence. I will disclose it to them as soon as I know what they are counting against me because I don't actually know from their statements and the company never spoke about any of this to me as a breach of terms and conditions.

Alex Watts : You will get a court order saying each party must serve statements and evidence 14 days before the hearing. So it so it will be at the same time.
Alex Watts : You each know what the case is against each other.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything?
Customer:

I wish I did know. That's my problem. When they say that I pestered other stopcocks members I have no idea what they are talking about. And I have no idea how my communications are considered to be bringing them into disrepute when they do not say what I said or when I said it. So how can I give my evidence until I see what comments they are talking about?

Customer:

Being completely non specific works a treat for them and leaves me asking questions that I can't get any answers to.

Alex Watts : Yes but you could file documents late, but the court may not necessarily rely on them.
Alex Watts : Does that clarify?
Customer:

Will the court take my lack of understanding of their claims against me into account when they consider what they rely on?

Alex Watts : Yes the court would.
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