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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3557
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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A friend of mine was recommended an Interior Designer / Architect

Resolved Question:

A friend of mine was recommended an Interior Designer / Architect from a work colleague/friend, to propose and design some building works on my 2 bedroom flat, which I purchased in November 2013.
Initial proposed plans and schedules of works, were invoiced at £1800+Vat, which has already been paid in full.
No further plans or works has been carried out in relation to design or additional drawings in relation to the first invoice.
They've recently received a second invoice from the same Interior Designer / Architect for the sum of £6,000+Vat, I've now received an email this morning demanding a BACS payment of 50% of the £6,000+Vat invoice by close of play tomorrow.
They don't wish to use him for anything else with the works, our appointed Builder has got his own designer and has also picked flaws within the draft / proposed drawings.
There hasn't been any signed agreement or any form of contract. Only some exchanges of emails and now a threatening email.
They can't afford to pay this extortionate invoice for the same items which I have already received under the original invoice.
What can they do?
Kind Regards
Steve
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.

Alex J. :

Hi Thank you for your question and welcome. Was the invoice or fees ever agreed? Did your friends sign any terms and conditions that continued payment terms? Have they explained what the invoice is for i.e what work done? Kind regards AJ

Customer:

Only the initial sum was agreed with a list of items - all in an email. An actual Invoice was generated after the £1800+Vat figure was paid. The invoice details the drawings.

Customer:

No terms & conditions were signed

Alex J. :

Hi Thank you. I am going to write a response but will switch this to Q & A mode as it is easier. Do not be concerned if the screen changes I am still here.

Customer:

The second invoice details same drawings, but specifically lists i.e. electrical layout, kitchen elevation & bathroom elevation all of which are the proposed drawings which were required initially.

Customer:

I've checked this interior designer company out, they aren't registered with the RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) or the British Institute of Interior Design

Customer:

Alex J, do you know what time I'll have a response / letter to review from you?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your response.

I will deal with each point in turn.
1. The Law:
- This is a basic principle of contractual formation;
- A person cannot just unilaterally enforce terms and conditions on another party without their acceptance;
- When a contract is agreed you agree the services and the price to be paid for those services - they are then accepted by the other party and the contract is formed;
- You cannot then unilaterally try to change those terms without express agreement whether verbally or written into a contract/ terms and conditions.

2. The facts:
- What this person has tried to do is unilaterally change the terms of the agreement by increasing the price;
- They are not entitled to do this especially where no terms and conditions were provided and there was no other verbal or written acceptance in fact you friend terminated the services.

3. The next steps:
- Write to the designer and deny you ever incurred or agreed to the additional services and no services have been provided in respect of the additional payment;
- Say that it is a criminal offence to unlawfully harass someone for money in this manner under S.40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970;
- Say if they continue you to chase you, you reserve the right to report the matter to Trading Standards - www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/‎
- Say that it is evident that the work has not been carried out with reasonable care and skill as is required under S.13 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (on the basis that the builders redid the design) and if they continue to pursue you, you reserve the right to recover from them the losses you have suffered as a result of the work they produced for you.

I am afraid there are two certain points here:
- The £1,800 plus VAT will have to be paid as it was agreed;
- If the builder wants to bring court proceedings that is entirely their prerogative. However I am confident they will struggle to successfully bring the claim as they will be required under the Civil Procedure Rules to prove the claim and they will have no proof that the fee was agreed or any additional services were every provided.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

AJ
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Can I be of any further assistance?

Kind regards

AJ
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi AJ,


The initial £1,800+Vat was paid in December 2013 for proposed drawings & drafts of the work - initial plans.


The additional £6k+Vat is for the same thing but just specifying each drawing individually.


 


No works has commenced with the involvement of this Interior designer. They haven't opted to proceed with him.


This additional invoice has come at great shock, as they just about satisfied the initial invoice.


Regards


Steve

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is the second invoice was for work that was not agreed or even done.

If you write to them as I have detailed (I have re posted the thread below for your reference) above you should have some success in getting them to back off. They are going to find it very hard to make any kind of court claim because they wont have any evidence to prove the work was done or a fee agreed.

If they continue to harass your friend then I would complain to Trading Standards.

Kind regards

AJ


Original Response:
Hi,

Thank you for your response.

I will deal with each point in turn.
1. The Law:
- This is a basic principle of contractual formation;
- A person cannot just unilaterally enforce terms and conditions on another party without their acceptance;
- When a contract is agreed you agree the services and the price to be paid for those services - they are then accepted by the other party and the contract is formed;
- You cannot then unilaterally try to change those terms without express agreement whether verbally or written into a contract/ terms and conditions.

2. The facts:
- What this person has tried to do is unilaterally change the terms of the agreement by increasing the price;
- They are not entitled to do this especially where no terms and conditions were provided and there was no other verbal or written acceptance in fact you friend terminated the services.

3. The next steps:
- Write to the designer and deny you ever incurred or agreed to the additional services and no services have been provided in respect of the additional payment;
- Say that it is a criminal offence to unlawfully harass someone for money in this manner under S.40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970;
- Say if they continue you to chase you, you reserve the right to report the matter to Trading Standards - www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/‎
- Say that it is evident that the work has not been carried out with reasonable care and skill as is required under S.13 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (on the basis that the builders redid the design) and if they continue to pursue you, you reserve the right to recover from them the losses you have suffered as a result of the work they produced for you.

I am afraid there are two certain points here:
- The £1,800 plus VAT will have to be paid as it was agreed;
- If the builder wants to bring court proceedings that is entirely their prerogative. However I am confident they will struggle to successfully bring the claim as they will be required under the Civil Procedure Rules to prove the claim and they will have no proof that the fee was agreed or any additional services were every provided.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

AJ
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3557
Experience: Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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