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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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there I ran a business from an office years but

Resolved Question:

Hi there
I ran a business from an office for 15 years but shut that office in Dec 2013 due to economic constraints. Since the year 2000 I employed a company called Trans-fire protection to annually service the 2 fire extinguishers I was obliged to have in the office. When we closed the office my office manager called/emailed all of our suppliers giving at least 3 months of not 6 months notice that we would be shutting down. Everyone accepted this with good grace. After the office closed I continued running the company by myself in a much reduced capacity from my home. In around July 2014 I got an invoice and legal notice from Transfire protection asking for over £500 in compensation for breach of contract. I have been to-ing and fro-ing with them ever since (probably 6 letters) as I had no idea what they were talking about. They claimed they had a 120 month contract and that I needed to give written notice to quit and even if I did, they were entitled to compensation against their loss of earnings. I had no knowledge of this contract and explained I would never knowingly sign such a ridiculous clause. Today finally, they have sent me a copy of this 'contract' as evidence and are saying they are starting court proceedings if I don't send them a reduced 'fine' of £300 today. Looking at this 'contract'......it is indeed signed by me on 16/11/2010 BUT I absolutely maintain that it was signed by me on request by the service engineer who had just serviced our fire extinguishers as a way of signing off that he had completed his service. It was not explained what the contract was for and I certainly didn't read the small print before signing as had implied that it was just to say he had done the work. My office didn't keep a copy as we didn't realise its significance. I am extremely dismayed.
My question is on the legal enforceability of such a clause in a contract?
I cannot dispute that I signed the document but I believe I was completely duped into signing for something that seems extremely unreasonable.
Can you please suggest where I stand in this situation?
Kind Regards
Kumar Kamalagharan
*****@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

If you are in business then sadly it can be enforced.

Alex Watts :

You can only claim its unfair if you were acting in the course of a consumer.

Alex Watts :

But if it went to Court and it would be a small claim then you can ask the Court to assess whether the £300 is a realistic loss

Alex Watts :

They would have to show that the £300 is the actual loss and proportionate.

Alex Watts :

But as the contract term itself, sadly can be enforced.

Alex Watts :

Extra information for free - if they take you to Court then they can not claim lots of legal costs. Just basis issuing and hearing fee

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

Hi Alex

Customer:

please clarify what this means?You can only claim its unfair if you were acting in the course of a consumer.

Customer:

I don't understand what you have said?

Alex Watts :

Ok - you had a business for an office. Therefore when you signed the contract for the fire servicing you were in business.

Alex Watts :

You were not a consumer (like someone off the street).

Alex Watts :

Therefore you wont have the same protection as a consumer.

Alex Watts :

The law considers consumers to need protection and has legislation to protect them.

Alex Watts :

Does that clarify?

Customer:

Ahh OK - so basically i'm stuffed? And I should pay the £300 to cut my losses as going to court will only end up costing me more?

Alex Watts :

Sadly stuffed yes.

Alex Watts :

£300 seems like a reasonable commercial decision

Customer:

I understand. I'm just infuriated by being tricked in such a devious manner. Its basically a legal confidence trick.

Alex Watts :

Indeed. Sadly you should have read the contract.

Alex Watts :

If this does answer your question can I ask you to rate my service before you go today, the button should be at the bottom of the screen

Alex Watts :

If you need more help please click reply

Customer:

ha ha........yes my wife now thinks she is a legal expert as she agrees with you

Customer:

thank you

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