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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70508
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have paid £27000 + £500 in new parts to have a replica

Customer Question

I have paid £27000 + £500 (in stages over a period of 4yrs) new parts to have a replica sportscar built.The car is 85% complete and I was promised it would be finished in a further 5 months.That was 18 months ago. The builder has not answered my calls for nearly 7 months and not disclosed his new address. His mobile phone number which I have is no longer answered by him and I recently discovered by contacting his son that he now uses a different phone number. When I called him on this number too request the status of my car he told me I had no right to contact his relatives, never to ring on this number again and that he had my address and if I did not comply he might "pay me a visit. Do I have a case to go to the police and if not what should I do. This is my lifes savings and I fear it is all lost.

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
You could make a report to the police but they may say it is a civil matter. In fairness, there are things that could be charged but it might be more suitable for the civil courts.
The alternative is to get a tracing agent to find an address for him. Then you could sue at the county court. You do have a claim that would be disposed of there. There would be costs involved but you could claim that back.
Get a solicitor to send him a letter before action before issuing.
Can I clarify anything for you
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My son recently tried to speak to him on my behalf on the telephone and suggested that if he was not able to finish the car could we not collect as is - he said this might be possible but failed to say when or where and when my son tried to ask this it sounded as if he had put the mobile phone down and walked away to speak to somebody else in the room and never came back to reply until my son was forced to hang up.

Is there anyway a solicitor could initially send a letter to suggest this course of action. I would rather have an 85% finished car then no car at all. I am also worried that he may have insufficient funds to meet any court judgement. I have found from recent searches he as one unsatisfied judgement from 2010 from a now dissolved Ltd company, for £5500 but there appears nothing else.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes but you need to find his address. That is why you need a tracing agent.
Then a solicitor could write to him.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Should I make any more attempts to contact him (or should my son) before appointing a solicitor/ tracing agent. When my son spoke the last time he deliberately made sure he "could not get a word in edgeways". He did the same to me on the previous call.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I think at this stage you need to move this on.
Negotiating is always best but there comes a point where it fails and when people are shouting the odds it has failed.
There may be no need for litigation but you need a letter before action. It isn't going to be achieved with face to face negotiations.
I am offline until the morning now but I can pick this up then.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Thanks for guidance so far. In tracing his address what happens if he is living with a new partner at her address or he has no fixed abode. I believe from my initial inquiries this could be the current situation (some where in north Devon). In the last conversation I had with him (the one sided one in his favour) as well as telling me he had my address and might pay me a visit he also said he would sue me for harassment. Am I right in thinking that under the law I am in my rights to continue to contact him (as he taken such a large amount of money from me and now is acting as if he is attempting to defraud me of it) until he gives me an acceptable explanation or outcome.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
There are other alternatives.
You can serve at his place of business or get somebody to hand it to him.
If there is no other address then this one might well be sufficient.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Jo thanks again for your help could you advise my last point

Am I right in thinking that under the law I am in my rights to continue to contact him (as he taken such a large amount of money from me and now is acting as if he is attempting to defraud me of it) until he gives me an acceptable explanation or outcome.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, you are free to do that. I was just making the point that since it isn't achieving much you might need to do more.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Jo, is he not attempting to defraud me of the money I have paid him.

If I make any attempt to call him he will not allow me to speak or hang up. If my further tracing action and searches reveal that he has no money presumably even if I achieve a judgement in the high court in reality I will not recover anything.

I have contacted a suitable tracing agent and they have said if will cost £500 to locate his present address and do a full background search.

If he still has my 85% finished car (and this might be his only asset) what is the best way to proceed to retrieve it. I have sent him a message by txt to say that "Without prejudice if he gives me the car as it is I will take no further action (police/legal) and if not I will further pursue both. I have contacted the Police and they have said it is civil matter at present but I have the option to contact the London Police Action Fraud Unit who may have a record of him carrying out similar scams with other people.

Surely he is committing an offence to take my money then attempt to disassociate himself from me as if I had never made the payment and give no explanation as to why.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I wouldn't go that far I'm afriad.
This is a civil dispute. He isn't handling it very well but it doesn't really amount to criminal conduct.
You can make a report to the police but I suspect that would be the answer and anyway even if they did take a report that wouldn't recover the money. You need to sue to do that.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have supplied him in good faith with £500 of new car parts.if he is not giving me the unfinished car or my money back is he not stealing those parts from me. Are we saying that unless I sue with court action he can keep the unfinished car and my £27000 +£500 parts. Emotionally inside this seems so unjust - I feel I want to rush and find him and demand to have my car or money back face to face. In this whole business Jo I have not done anything wrong or been dishonest. It seems my major mistake was to trust him and pay the money, but it seems so unfair that I am now not freely able to do anything (assuming that he has no money and he is a fraudster).It appears he has been setting numerous Ltd companies and dissolving them which I was unaware of. However it seems most of the stage payments I made to him were done during the period where one Ltd company had been dissolved and the new one had not been formed. Does that mean that in these intervening periods my payments were being made to him personally on a sole trader basis. During the whole 4.5 yrs car build my stage payments were always to the same named bank account and he never made me aware of the formation/closure of the Ltd Companies. Would this be of any legal significance?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It depends really. If no company was trading then he must have been a sole trader.