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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46798
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Good Evening, I have a small interior design business that

Resolved Question:

Good Evening, I have a small interior design business that is currently owed money by a client. A plumber (as recommended by us but not under contract to us) was used by our client to plumb and tile their ensuite bathroom. We only supplied the sanitaryware. The finished result was not to the clients standard and the money they paid to the plumber direct they have now with held from my business. They have said that I need to take the plumber to small claims for incurred losses rather than them for monies owed by them for the sanitaryware. Please advise as I am not sure what direction I should take. Thank you. Isabel
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

So what actually happened when the plumber was recommended, did you provide their details to the client and they arranged everything between themselves?

Customer:

Hi there Ben. Yes, I introduced the plumber to the client (private / residential) and recommended their work. I do not blame the client for this, ultimately it is the plumbers poor workmanship that has caused this dispute.

Customer:

With regard them arranging everything between themselves, the client stressed that they were on a tight schedule as their baby was due. When I saw how slow the plumber was working I took it upon myself to call in most days to make sure that he had everything he needed / was working to schedule. This was done with genuine good intention and not as a project manager. I would not project manage the installation of a bathroom as I do not have the professional knowledge to do so. I just wanted the project finished and my reputation intact. Talk about shot myself in the foot. Please see below the latest correspondence from the client;

Customer:

Response from client;I’m sorry to hear that you still want to contest this amount. My position hasn’t changed in that I still hold you ultimately responsible for employing & project managing Bill Middleton, and for not ensuring that the job was completed to an acceptable standard. You are just as able to start small claims proceedings against Bill for losses incurred, rather than against me for an unpaid invoice. That’s up to you, but I have no intention of paying for a job that needs re doing.

Ben Jones :

Not sure why you have rated Bad service as I am still preparing my response?

Ben Jones :

Hi, do you actually want me to continue with this as you have already expressed your dissatisfaction through your rating?

Ben Jones :

I await to hear from you before continuing

Customer:

Hi Ben, Huge apologies, I thought when it said that you stepped out of the chat you didn't want to respond. Not too hot at this sort of thing. Sorry. I await your response. Thank you.

Ben Jones :

Ah not to worry, I will get back to you shortly

Customer:

Thank you. Am mortified at that!

Ben Jones :

No need, site can be misleading

Ben Jones :

This is essentially a matter of contract law and your rights will depend on who the plumber had contracted with for the job. It is not uncommon for a client to engage a builder for a job, who will then use subcontractors to perform various tasks as part of the job. The contract would be between the client and the original builder, who will in turn have separate contracts with the subcontractors. So in the event of a dispute the client would pursue the original builder and they would then pursue the subcontractors. However, this only applies where the whole job has been given to a party and they are left in charge of it and to find the suitable people to complete the job.


 


If you were employed to do a specific job and in the process you recommended someone else, which led to the client contacting them and arranging separate work directly, then this would not be a contract over which you have responsibility and it would be a separate contractual relationship between the client and that other person. You would not be held responsible for this and the client cannot withhold money that is owed towards the work you had undertaken on their behalf.


 


As to pursuing the matter further it is recommended that the process follows these steps:


 



  1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.

  2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.

  3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.


 


Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.


 

Customer:

Hi Ben, Thank you very much. May I just confirm something with you. The client paid the plumber direct and then with held this amount from us. Are you saying that I have to ask the client to pay and not the plumber. It would seem that the client is adamant that the plumber was under contract to us. Neither of us have paperwork to confirm or dispute this. The fact that the client paid the plumber (no money changed hands between my company and the plumber) would surely show that the plumber was contracted by the client - not us. It feels very much his word against ours. Is this correct in my understanding?

Ben Jones :

who the contract was is a matter of fact - it would depend on the parties that negotiated the work, who agreed a price, who gave the go ahead, and so on. Paying the plumber direct would also be a relevant factor and form part of the overall picture. Unfortunately you could provide them with all examples that suggest the contract was with the plumber but cannot force them to accept this and only a court can resolve this, which makes it difficult for you

Customer:

Well the client agreed the price with the plumber and the client then gave the go ahead for the work to be carried out. Can I really not claim against the plumber for 'incurred costs?'

Customer:

Sorry, 'incurred losses'

Ben Jones :

this would again come down to who you had a contract with - in one instance you are arguing you had no contract with them and that they had one with the client, in another you wish to claim against them for these losses but if you had no contract with them you can't claim against them - it is the client, really you should be pursuing

Customer:

Thank you very much Ben. You have been a great help. Excellent service. Good evening to you.

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46798
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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