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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70516
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I ordered a new en suite bathroom to be delivered and fitted

Resolved Question:

I ordered a new en suite bathroom to be delivered and fitted by a major DIY store. Less than a week before the fitting was due to start they called to say they could not start on the agreed date. It is now 2 weeks beyond the expected completion date and no new start date has been confirmed. Are they in breach of contract?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Did you agree time was of the essence?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I made it clear that I wanted the job done as quickly as possible and I made it clear that I was rearranging dates and appointments to meet the dates that they requested.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Furthermore, I will now have to set aside another 10 days when they come up with a new date.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Did the contract use the words 'time is of the essence'?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The agreement for the fitting dates was made over the phone. I may not have used that exact phrase but, given the time that had elapsed between placing the order and their proposed fitting date (4 months), I made it clear that I was disappointed and frustrated with the delay, and that I expected them to get on with the work on the agreed dates as I had rearranged my personal schedule to accommodate them.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Was the bathroom made to measure?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Ok. They are in breach of contract but not such a material breach that it strikes at the heart of the contract and allows cancellation.If the bathroom hadn't been made to specification it would be possible to argue that there was no loss but clearly it was and there is.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
You can make time of the essence in the contract now. Nobody expects you to wait forever and a day.You have to write to them giving them 28 days to complete and making clear that time is of the essence. If they then fail to comply then you do have an argument that you are able to cancel. It would only work if you gave them a very long and reasonable period of time though which is why 28 days would be sensible.Can I clarify anything for you?Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was thinking more along the lines of negotiating a substantial discount on the original cost, based on delay and inconvenience caused by their breach of contract. Would you consider this reasonable?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
They may agree to it but you wouldn't get it if you went to court.You would have a claim for your loss - such as loss of earnings maybe - but not for a sum to represent inconvenience.But they may agree to it.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank You Jo.