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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3653
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I have a dispute with a supplier who miss sold me licences

Customer Question

I have a dispute with a supplier who miss sold me licences that I didn't need. I have ended the contract but there was a one year notice period at the end of June. They have failed to provide satisfactory explanations about the licences. I have not paid their last two monthly invoices as I believe they are in breach of contract as they did not show a duty of care to me as their client. They have now sent me a 'letter before action' saying I am in breach and must pay in full. I think they are bluffing, but please could you advise what is my exposure if I refuse to pay at this point.
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. How much is one whole year of the contract worth? How did the mis selling occur? What is the nature of the service they provided? Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The dispute is with our former IT provider. When I joined as CEO last June I was surprised, based on my previous experience, to find what I considered to be a poor level of service for an inflated charge. I began a review process and re-tendered for the work. The former provider was invited to submit a tender and did so but they chose to seek an increase to the fee. We saw three other providers who offered a better quality of service (e.g. On site support) at a lower cost. The former provider responded in a very hostile way to my decision not to reappoint them. Firstly they insisted that the contract was annually renewable. On close inspection I found they were right - something I would never had agreed to - but relations were strained and we decided to begin a transition in March, before we the contract ends in June. When our new provider came on site they conducted an audit. They asked why we had licenses for Microsoft that we did not need. The core of the issue was that the PCs, which our previous provider procured for us, came with Microsoft Office installed and we did not need the licences we were then told to buy on a three year contract. We are in the third year of the contract and have written to Microsoft asking them to waive the licence fee this year, explaining the background. We are waiting to hear back. There was a similar issue with the servers and licenses we did not need. There were other concerning issues too about the systems we had. We raised the licenses issue in March and said we did not intend to make further payments to them until it was resolved. There are now three outstanding invoices totalling 6000. We are not due to receive any further invoices. I need to decide whether just to pay them, or to see if they try and take it to the small claims court. I have been told that they would not be able to get costs awarded if they won, so our liability would be 6000. This makes me feel like just sitting it out and seeing what happens. A further factor is that if Microsoft rule in our favour we could counter claim for negligence.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you for your response. £6000 in the small claims court will be dealt with on a fixed cost basis. The maximum costs they would recover would be no more that about £150 (Civil Procedure Rule 45). Really your options are as follows:(i) Do nothing and wait for them to sue you. If they sue you, you could try and defend the claim or you could take steps to settle the negotiation;(ii) Try and settle the matter now - if you are going to do this you should try and make the settlement on the basis that you have a counter. This maybe for example, you hired them for their expertise and advice in IT services. They have failed to provide these IT Services with reasonable care and skill (Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 - section 13) and accordingly this is a breach of contract for which you should be compensated for your losses i.e the Microsoft license cost.In terms of a defence, you could argue that their breach of contract was so fundamental to the contract that you lost and confidence in the service and therefore this was a breach of condition - accordingly you were entitled to terminate without charge.I look forward to hearing from you.Kind regards AJ

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