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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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, I used to run an outdoor fitness business that used

Resolved Question:

Hello,
I used to run an outdoor fitness business that used a couple of local parks. I was told by the council there would be no charge for this when I started; then within weeks they contacted me to say there was now a fee!
The amount they asked for was very high and I told them I couldn't afford it. After discussions; they halved it and I started to pay on a quarterly basis.
After a year the invoices stopped. At the time, there was hardly any money being generated by the business and I just continued the sessions assuming there was a new policy in place (a little naive I know!).
Over a year of no invoices and they send me an invoice for the full amount! The money coming in does not justify the fees, so I stop the sessions immediately...but the council still want to be paid!
My question is; do I have to pay them if I have never signed a contract with them agreeing to these charges??
Thanks for your time,
***** *****
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.

Customer:

Hi Ben, what do you think?

Ben Jones :

Even though you may never have signed a written contract, a binding contract is likely to be in place. The law does not require anything in writing for a contract to be legally enforceable – it can be implied in any event, if certain requirements were met. These are an offer, an acceptance and some consideration. There was an offer because the council offered you to use their premises for a fee, you accepted it, even if you did o verbally, and there is consideration – you started to use the parks. So a contract would most likely be in place anyway. The fact that they did not invoice you does not mean that the contract had ended or it was changed, especially if there was no specific agreement that they will have to continue invoicing you for the fees to be levied. In all likelihood you would be liable for the continuing fees to cover the time you had used the park, but as it was their fault that they had not invoice you for such a long time then you can approach them to try and agree a periodic repayment plan, rather than having to pay a lump sum as they want you to. Also if you wanted to risk it you could refuse to pay and see what they do – they cannot force you to unless they take you to court and win – so if at any stage it becomes apparent they may want to go to court and you do not want to defend the case here, just contact them and offer payment again.

Customer:

Shit! So I am liable even if there was no signed agreement then. Would you advise chancing it? They have offered a payment plan; but it is still a significant monthly amount. I'm not earning anything from the business at all at the moment.

Ben Jones :

oh yes a written agreement is certainly not needed for there to be a legally binding contract. It is difficult to say whether to risk it or not - no one knows what their intentions are and how likely it is they will pursue it. You may wish to try and negotiate a more reasonable repayment plan first and remind them it was their failure to invoice you that ha resulted in these fees accruing

Customer:

Ok Ben, thanks.

Ben Jones :

you are welcome

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