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tdlawyer
tdlawyer, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  11 years experience of general practice.
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Hello - I have recently been negotiating with a shipping company

Resolved Question:

Hello - I have recently been negotiating with a shipping company to have a large package that has arrived from abroad cleared from customs and delivered/collected.
After 2 months of discuss to agree the clearance costs, their invoice paid and the item now ready for collection, I have been issued with an new invoice for rent totally £900.

Given that at no time during our correspondence have the company advised me that rent would be payable, the date that it might start nor the daily rate due, would I have a case against them and this cost? Are they legally able to issue an invoice, 'out of the blue' like this?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 3 years ago.

tdlawyer :

Hello, welcome to the website. My name isXXXXX can assist you with this.

tdlawyer :

If you had discussions in which you agreed the clearance costs, i.e. all costs to allow you to collect the goods without further liability to you, then they cannot then later seek to invoice you again for an additional amount that you didn't agree before ensuring your goods would be released.

tdlawyer :

It would be open to you to pay the latest invoice under protest, referring to your previous agreement, then issue proceedings in the small claims court for the £900 that you have had to pay.

Customer:

Hi Tony

tdlawyer :

Hello!

Customer:

Hi Tony - That's helpful.I don't have anything in writing that states the previous invoice related to 'all costs to allow you to collect the goods without further liability to you'.

Customer:

Hi Tony

tdlawyer :

Okay, but in terms of the oral agreement that you reached, are you satisfied that this is what you agreed>

Customer:

Difficult to say the clearance itself was done by another company (B), whilst the company (A) that I am now in dispute with charged me for arrival costs and associated costs to do with taking the item off the ship. I was given invoices by both companies for their respective roles, which I paid promptly. Then I heard nothing. It was only once I chased up on the process with company A that I was informed about the rent charge. So my thinking is that my issue is not that there should not have been rent charges, but rather that I should have been informed about them and when they would start - which I was not.

tdlawyer :

In contract law though, you have to agree to the charges (i.e. know about them in the contract) before you have any liability to pay them. So, knowing about them and being liable to pay them are similar issues in practical terms. Of course, you could have signed an agreement which obliges you to pay, but you didn't "know" about them, but in a legal sense, because you would have agreed to contract terms entitling payment for this, you would have "known and agreed" those terms.

tdlawyer :

So, you need to go back to the terms and conditions you entered into with Company A and see what they say about these charges.

Customer:

Ok - finally I didn't have any t&c's but I guess if they have anything published on their website then they will stand? Finally - is an email a legally binding document as they say they advised me by email that the (but again without reference to the charges)

Customer:

sorry hadn't finished - they advised me by email that the items was ready for collection - but again did not reference the charges. And I never received this email anyway. If you can just advise on that then I think we are done.

tdlawyer :

They would only stand on their website if you agreed between you that they would apply, i.e. either orally you say something like "we agree the website T&Cs will apply" or they're incorporated into your agreement with them by some other way, e.g. in writing (expressly saying that they apply) or via a course of dealings, working with them previously in which you've accepted that they apply.

tdlawyer :

The email comes after the contract is concluded, so it has no contractual force. Hence, it all comes back to what was agreed at the outset (or in your subsequent discussions/meetings when you try to resolve the charges issue) that's important. The notification email is really only information, it doesn't affect the actual contract that you had.

Customer:

Thank you - I think I have all the ammunition I need.

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