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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3694
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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ENGLISH LAW ONLY PLEASE I am looking for advice whether the

Resolved Question:

ENGLISH LAW ONLY PLEASE
I am looking for advice whether the principle of Estoppel can be brought into a legal issue I have.
I made an offer and a client agreed to a domestic removal where the terms of payment were that the full sum be paid prior to the move taking place or at the end of the move on the move date. This was agreed and the work was completed to a good standard and on time. There is no dispute regarding this and the client took my men to the pub afterwards and bought them a drink.
At the end of the move, the client claims he forgot the payment terms and was only able to pay for half of the move, leaving a sum in excess of £500 which he claimed he would transfer as soon as he returned from a business trip. This has still not been paid a month later.
Even though the client and his wife were at the house throughout the move, they are now claiming we left all the lightshades in the house that hang from the ceilings. This meant that his pregnant wife spent 4 hours the following day removing them, causing her distress. We do not remove light shades as standard and if we had been requested to do so, we would have done or if we had been called at any time the next day I would have sent someone to do this within a 2 hour period. The labour cost to me would have been between £20 on the day or possible £30 if I had gone back the following day. Not the sum of in excess of £500 which is being withheld.
I am pretty clear as to where I stand in English contract law and will be issuing a 7 day letter and then will take this through the small claim court. I have been through this process before and fully expect to gain payment as in my experience the courts will see through this.
However, I would prefer not to do this and would like to make my 7 day chasing letter stronger to encourage the client to pay up. Given that the client was at the house all day and checked the house at the end and didn’t mention the light shades and given the fact that we did not receive a call to ‘rectify’ this is the client ‘Estopped’ from using this as a reason for non payment.
I have successfully used Estoppel before in a legal case where a client complained that an item that was installed was the wrong colour a week after it had been installed an would like to know whether I can use this in a 7 day letter as well.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. I am afraid you won't be able to use estoppel in this circumstance for one key reason. Under the "High Trees House Case" Estoppel is a "Shield and not Spear". This means you can only use estoppel as a defence and not as the basis of a claim. As you have noted you have a claim in contract anyway. Where you previously used estoppel it sounds like you were using it in the claim to prove "detrimental reliance" on the fact that you had been told a colour to use and acted in reliance on this to your detriment. There is equitable estoppel as well but this will only serve to obfuscate any claim because you have a straightforward contractual claim anyway. I am happy to discuss any of this further. Please note I will be on and off line throughout today so please do not be concerned if I do not respond immediately. Kind regards AJ

Customer:

Thank you i understand this. However, if i go to court, would the customer be 'estopped' from making a claim of

Customer:

thank you i understand this . However, if it goes to court and the client makes a counter claim ( however weak) for stress and anxiety are they prevented from doing this. Its splitting hairs, i know but would estoppell come into play then.

Customer:

i suspect the clients wife is a solicitor or he has someone in his family that is because he seems pretty confident that he doesnt have to pay. But from my experince is it quite clear cut that we have undertaken the contract and even if we had been asked and refused to do this additional works the discount which he is awarding himself is not proportiionate with the work carried out

Alex J. : Hi. Thank you. Any counter claim is going to be based in breach of contract.Therefore normal contractual rules of damages apply, I.e reasonable foreseeable losses. Stress and anxiety is not a loss capable of being claimed.
Alex J. : what proof do you have that a price was agreed?
Customer:

I have a emailed quote. also in my chasing emails i spell out what is owed. There have been servarl

Customer:

I have an emailed quote which was a fixed price to undertake the move. The offer was verbally accepted and we undertook the work. When i asked fro payment i have specified what was owed and what was paid. In none of the retrun emails has he stated he doesnt owe this amount, just that they have had to do the work.

Alex J. : Hi, that seems fairly clear cut. Even without verbal acceptance they let you in the house to do the work. So it has to be implied that they accepted the terms of your contract before the work began.
Customer:

thats what i thought. It seems to be a clear case of an 'implied contract'. he has had a month to dispute that the price quoted in writing was different to what he has agreed, which he has not, so i will just go through the process or trying to recover via the courts now. thanks for your clarifcation.

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