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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Good morning, I and my husband have spent several months

Resolved Question:

Good morning,
I and my husband have spent several months communicating with a builder who worked on a property we partly own that is divided into flats. The three owners own the leasehold of their own flat and jointly own the freehold.
The work carried out in the spring of 2013 was to investigate and repair the roof. Unfortunately water ingress continued and when the roof was severely damaged in the winter of 2013/14 a complete refurbishment was required. The cost was only partly covered by insurance, the rest being of historical damage; having not been corrected by the builder employed before the storm.
For the builder the storm was lucky as it covered up his inadequate workmanship, however it didn't cover up the general poor worn condition of the lead on the flat roof that he failed to spot.
He denies his remit was to investigate the whole roof for the leaks saying he was only sent up to repair the chimneys, which the owners deny, his remit being to investigate the roof for leaks whether they came from the pitched slated part, the flat lead part, or the chimneys. And over the months he has refused to come to some amicable agreement to return money paid in good faith.
As considerable time has now elapsed and one flat owner has since moved and wants nothing to do with any claim, I am now resigned to let it go, it has been very exhausting and I would like to move on, but before doing so I would like to ask...
Can the former builder sue me, as he says he can, for slander if I say I couldn't recommend him if someone asks?
Also I would like to write an account of the events from the owners point of view, to Trading Standards, not to get any money back, but just so the builder is flagged up so any future client of his that receives a poor standard of service has some chance of redress. Can I do this?
The former builder says he has contacted Trading Standards and says the burden of proof is with the owners. He implied that he is not at fault and that he has their support, so if there is no reason why I shouldn't write and submit a post storm surveyor's report to Tading Standards I will, and I will also tell the builder, as to do so would surely make him more considerate to any future clients.
Thank you, ***** ***** *****@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

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

Ben Jones :

Whilst the builder may try and threaten to sue you for defamation (this includes libel if it is in written form, or slander if it is in oral form), such claims are extremely difficult to pursue. Many people are intent on suing for defamation without having any appreciation of the law behind them, so I will try and clear things up for you now.

First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:

1. The statement has to be untrue.

2. It must directly identify the complainant.

3. It must have been published, usually communicated to at least another person.

4. It must be in a form of words, which would tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of ‘right thinking members of society generally', expose the claimant to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.

5. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.

Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has occurred, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is extremely complex and expensive. As this goes through the High Court, they would need the professional help of specialist defamation solicitors and the costs are undoubtedly going to run into the thousands right at the outset. Also there is no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally. So when you hear about defamation claims being made, these are usually pursued by big corporations or celebrities who have a public image to protect.

You must also consider whether you can defend the claim. Even if the builder can satisfy the criteria to prove your statement was defamatory it could be defended on a number of grounds, including by providing evidence that the statement was substantially true or an honest opinion.

So I would not worry too much about being sued for slander as that can be rather difficult in the circumstances.

Ben Jones :

You can also contact TS if you wanted to - they are there to deal with consumer disputes and often it will be one person's word against another's - they will consider the evidence and come to an unbiased decision so do not be put off by what he has said - you have the right to complain if you are unhappy and if he is unhappy as a result he has the right to defend this

Customer:

Thank you.

Ben Jones :

you are welcome

Customer:

All I want to do now is to log the account with Tading Standards so they have the owners side of the story, without it it seems unfair and onesided. I am not taking it any further, because with a previous owner not wanting to get involved it will be very difficult and I just don'y have the will any more, however I want the builder to know what I will do, so he gives a better service to future clients..

Customer:

Thank you

Ben Jones :

you may certainly contact TS about this - as mentioned they are there to listen to complaints about traders/businesses and decide if there is anything that needs to be done - you would not be doing anything wrong by contacting them and just giving them your side of the story

Ben Jones :

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

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