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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3609
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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RTA Business Consultants approached me in April

Customer Question

Dear Sir, RTA Business Consultants approached me in April 2013 with a view to sell the leasehold of my pub on my behalf. I am the tenant. Since then I have had no referrals from them and no contact what so ever. Frankly, I presumed they had forgotten about me and my pub! There was no marketing fee negotiated, so I never bothered in chasing them.
I have now received a WITHDRAWAL FEE invoice for £1500 plus vat in RTA's favour.
At no point during our initial meeting did they make me aware there would be a fee if they were unsuccessful in selling the business. I was given to believe by the agent "no sale no fee".
An agreement was signed by myself at the time and there is a clause which states there is a withdrawal fee payable by me. This was brought to my attention only when I challenged there invoice. I was given no time to study the agreement in full, if so I would never have agreed to the terms. I feel I have been tricked by this company and to make matters worst I am now receiving intimidating phone calls demanding payment.
Can you advise me please? Kind regards, Mike *****.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi. Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. Did they ever refer you to or ask you to sign any terms and conditions? Did they ever actually do any work ie prepare an advert etc? Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Alex,
As I said in my original statement, I did sign an agreement. However, at NO time was it brought to my attention that I would be expected to pay a fee if the business did not sell. Yes, they did prepare sales particulars as you would expect from any estate agent. There commission would have been 6% of the selling price.Kind regards, Mike.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. If they wanted to charge you a fee for terminating the agreement they would have:(i) Either have the contractual right to do so;(ii) Have actually done some work to justify the fee.I would recommend you write to them as follows:- Say you deny any fee is owing;- Say that this fee is purely a penalty for terminating the agreement and they have not contractual right to charge it - accordingly you do not think it would be enforceable any way as penalties are unenforceable under English Law;- Say that chasing someone for money they do not owe so as to cause harassment is a criminal offence under S.40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970 - if they do not stop chasing you, you will either report them to the police or trading standards. I would bare in mind that if they sue you (which is entirely their prerogative), you will have to defend the claim. At this point if you want to resolve the matter quickly you might consider making them an offer to settle the claim.Kind regardsAJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
RTA have phoned me this morning to confirm they will now be taking me to court.
What should I do now?
Kind regards,
Mike.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Have they actually issued you with a claim form? Or sent you a letter warning of 7 days notice before action?
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3609
Experience: Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
Alex J. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Good Evening Alex,
As yet I have not been issued with a claim form or a letter warning of 7 days notice before action.
Kind regards, Mike.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Alex,
Should I contact you again once I have received further correspondence from RTA?
Regards Mike.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. I am happy for you to contact me again and I will deal with any follow up issues. In the mean time if you want to stop this from going to court (to avoid the time and hassle) - you could try and offer them a smaller sum to settle. If you do this, you must do so in writing and mark the letter "Without Prejudice - Save as to costs".
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Alex,
I took your advice and wrote to them yesterday and reluctantly offered £500 to settle.
This morning I have received an "Notice of Intention to issue a County Court Claim" for non payment of fees £1800. Payment within 7 days.
I really begrudge paying the full amount as I was not made aware there was a fee involved and I feel they are charging a small independent publican for a for service they did not provide. On reflection, I think there representative tricked me as he priced the business at an unrealistic selling price knowing full well it would attract zero interest.
What is the worst scenario, if I refuse to pay the full amount? Kind regards, Mike.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. The worst case scenario is they issue a county court claim and you will have to go to court and defend yourself. Their claim will have to prove that the £1800 is actually chargeable in accordance with their terms and conditions. Have you asked them on what grounds they believe they have the right to charge this fee?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes...On the grounds that they had marketed my business for sale.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. Quite simply if they wont settle with you, they will have to prove they have a contractual right to charge this sum. If the termination charge was not contained in their terms and conditions or you were not notified of their terms and conditions, they will struggle to prove this charge is payable in court. Have you asked them to show a) where in their terms and conditions they can charge this sum and b) when they served their terms and conditions on you - they cannot unilaterally change the terms of your contract with them.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They did send me a copy of the signed initial agreement 3 years later 18th Jan 2016, where one of the clauses does state" that a withdrawal fee of one thousand and five hundred pounds plus vat will be due to cover any and all work carried out in order to earn there commission."
You would have to use a fine tooth comb to find the wording as it is not particularly clear. I have struggled with dyslexia all my life and asked the RTA representative to explain the contact to me,which he clearly did not!
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. They have to serve you with a copy of the agreement before you accept the service provision. Terms and conditions that they have made you aware of after you accepted and terminated the services wont be binding. Just to be 100% clear - you at no point had sight of these terms and conditions prior to accepting their services?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Alex, I can confirm that I did not see or agree to any terms or conditions prior to accepting their services.
Thank you once again, Mike.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
If you cannot settle the claim you will have defend it on the basis that their terms and conditions are unenforceable. Kind regards AJ

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