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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8975
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I am unable to settle a plumbers bill £3000 straight away

Resolved Question:

I am unable to settle a plumbers bill for over £3000 straight away due to illness and lack of income. I have emailed a proposed payment schedule to pay over 6 months. He has now replied saying this is unnacceptable and he will charge me 8% over base rate and a £100 penalty for any missed payment. Is this legal / acceptable - how should I reply?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

He is allowed to charge you 8% per annum but not 8% over the base rate and he is also allowed to charge you a one-off payment of £100 for a debt of £3000.

The relevant provisions are the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act and the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations.

Make sure that even though he says it is unacceptable, you keep paying the £500 per month which you have proposed because if he decides to take you to court, you will have finished paying long before the court hearing.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please do not forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which we experts get paid. We can still exchange emails.

Best wishes

FES

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi there, I was unable to get to the laptop earlier but will be happy to rate your service. Can you just tell me if the 8% & £100 one off payment apply to £3350 which is what I currently owe? And will the 8% only apply to the remaining balance as I knock off the £500 month by month. He may be quite a physical guy and decide to come round with threats or send someone else. What should I do about this?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

I’m sorry, I may have misled you. Unless there is a provision for late payment amount and interest in his original contract paperwork (if any), he is not entitled to any late payments on or interest at all if this is a residential job. It only applies to business 2 business debts.

If he issues court proceedings he will be entitled to add the 8% interest onto the outstanding balance from the date the money was due but not before he issues court proceedings.

However, if it’s a commercial plumbing job then the one-off payment of £100 applies because of the amount of the debt and the 8% applies on the outstanding balance from the date it was due, he does not have to issue court proceedings.

If he decides to come round with threats or to send someone else and you feel threatened, simply call the police. It doesn’t matter whether you do owe this money or not he simply cannot do that. It is actually an offence under the Administration of Justice Act, “unlawful harassment of debtors”

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8975
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for clarifying. Just a couple of queries:
I checked the paperwork he sent me and cannot find any conditions for late repayment. Can I point this out quoting the legal areas that cover this.
You mentioned that the conditions may only anyway apply in business to business situations. Its a little difficult because the heating system was installed in the house that I currently rent out. He started the job knowing that I had tenants in place so I would guess this is a commercial job even though I may one day move into the house and take advantage of the heating system he installed. So in short the most he can charge is 8% on top when it gets to court which I will avoid by paying off sooner and the £100 one off fee. Is this also charged through the court process? Thank you for your patience. Kind regards

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