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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48176
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Dear Just Answers,I am considering taking a business client

Customer Question

Dear Just Answers,I am considering taking a business client to County Court for non-payment of about £7k.I feel confident of my case but before I take the plunge I just need to run it past a solicitor for their opinionThanksChris
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Please can you provide me with a brief explanation of the nature of the claim you would like to make. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben,Thank you for getting back.Our company worked for a large london based IT and web training company. We developed a new US website for them and other related work. I know but sometimes builders never build their own home!We had a contract that with them that also included extra support work at a rate per day.An appointed employee of the company commissioned us to do additional work. She (and colleages) instructed us with emails and skype and sometmies telephone. We worked through this these instructions as best we could. The nature of the work meant that we processed the instructions and invoiced monthly, either this may not also match the instuctions chronologically, if you uinderstand me.We are a small company and perhaps didnt want to upset the client by asking for money. However they did pay (almost) regularly. Gemma, the appointed employee of the client, approved our invoices and passed them for payment. We had only ONE reported query were she questioned the number of hours worked on one invoice. It was completely refused - just queried number of hours.Gemma and all the other employees with whom we worked left the company.I realised that there were some invoices (in addition to that queried) that hadnt been paid. I asked for payment. As mentioned we invoiced monthly and it went like Mar (paid), April (not paid, May (paid) June (paid) July (not paid) Aug (paid) etc.I contend that these gaps must be because they were overlooked or lost in the process.The owner though is refusing to pay because he doesnt know what it is all about. The best we can do is point to the instructions received and say that it was completed. These relate to 2014 so it is not possible for us to match particular instructions to a particular invoice. If the employees were still there they could confirm the validity of work completedI contend that as the work was obviously done (factual) and that we invoiced monthly (most paid) then these invoice must have gone missing. None were queried (apart from one) and all invoices were emailed to the company.I have been emailing the owner. The last one I suggest we meet in the middle ground and even offered to write-off fully the one invoice in query. He never replied and I want to start proceedings this week.What do you reckon on the strength of our case?Thanks
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for your patience. You certainly do have a case to take further in the circumstances. Just because the owner does not know what the invoices relate to or he was not involved in the instructions for the work, or anything to do with them does not mean that his company is not liable. As you correctly identified – the liability here is a matter of fact, it would depend on what had happened to date, what instructions were given by those people authorised by the company to act in relation to this, what you did as a result of this in good faith and how much you are wed for this work. This is not something which requires the knowledge of the owner to become payable, it would have become payable before the owner even knew anything about it as he would have delegated the authority for negotiating and dealing with this work to the employees in question. Just because they have left and cannot verify this does not mean the company is no longer liable. One good thing is that this is going to go to the small claims court where each side pays their own legal fees so even if you are unsuccessful or do not recover the full amount, you will not be liable to pay the other side’s legal fees and your losses will be limited to any court costs you have had to pay. For a £7k claim these will be £410 claim fees and £335 hearing fee. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow to take the matter further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dear Ben,I am so pleased with your summation. I feel far more confident now with your support in taking this forward. I started to worry when the owner was trying to pysch me out about taking this to Court.I think you have done an excellent job and would be pleased to give you a high rating for your work so far. Is there a formal means to leave a rating?Kind regardsChris
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello Chris, thanks for the feedback and the rating process is very simple - just choose one of the stars at the top f the page (1 being lowest, 5 the highest) and that completes the ratings process. Many thanks
Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps: 1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due. 2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action. 3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this. Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dear Ben,Thanks for this advice. Fortunately I have followed all this actions. I also sent an email in which I asked if we could negotiate an agreement in preference to taking this matter to court. He has effectively ignored thi request. I will commence proceedings later this week.Can I possibly come back to you if necessary when I eventually I receive his defence.Kind regardsChris
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
sure although be mindful that this is just a Q&A site rather than a place where you can get more formal advice and help but obviously I will help as much as I can. You can always start your quesiton for my attention so it gets to me, many thanks
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dear Ben,Would you believe that I just got back and checking my emails find that I have a reply from client.Without prejudiceHi ChrisFor us to pay these, all I need to see is what you’re invoicing for and some kind of email trail or paperwork to show that (a) the work was commissioned; and (b) it was completed. Do you guys not keep a record of what you actually did against each invoice?From our perspective you’re asking us to pay invoices that we know nothing about and have no idea if they’re valid or not.I feel like I keep making this point and I’m not sure what else I can say or do to help resolve this situation.TrentonThis is difficult now (invoices were from 2014) but I have various email instructions from Gemma. It would be difficult to match indiviual instructions (stream of instructions for work to be completed) to thr individual invoices (in honesty) but we can try and assign something from the instructions to these (if you understand what I mean). This could lead to an agreement perhaps??Kind regardsChris
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
It may indeed, try to get as much evidence as you can and submit it then see what happens, none of these negotiations will prevent you from taking this further
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank Ben, I will do as you suggest. You have been most helpful in your advice.kind regardsChris
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
No worries best of luck