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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I owned a bespoke made box trailer at a cost of £3000.00 as

Resolved Question:

I owned a bespoke made box trailer at a cost of £3000.00 as I had moved to France and did not have to use the trailer for the time being I lent it to my friends who lived in Bradford.
I could not insure the trailer in the UK as I lived in France and only had a French address, my friends assured me that they would insure it whilst it was on their driveway. I provided extra security locking devices for the trailer namely a wheel clamp and a jockey wheel hitch lock clamp, I purchased these from the company who built the trailer as they were a bespoke fitting.
My fiends came to visit me for Christmas in 2014 and they had left the trailer on their driveway with one of their cars parked in front of it so to be able to move the trailer the car would first have to be moved.
On boxing day morning we received a phone call from one of their neighbours to tell us that the trailer had been stolen.
The thieves had moved the locked car in order to get at the trailer. It transpired that the extra locking devices had not been used to further secure the trailer from theft but they had been stored in the garden shed.
The friends were intending to come into business with me in France running a Gite self catering holiday let. They put up some money towards a complete new roof to be put onto the property. The amount of money they put in was 6,262 euros currency conversion to sterling is £5359.65, which they are requesting I pay back to them. They never did put any other money into the property I own and paid for it outright and mine is the only name on the deeds.
Would I be within my rights to deduct the £3000.00 from the roof money that I need to pay them back making it £2359.65 or 2758.14 Euros for the loss of the trailer due to their negligence in not using the extra security locks that I had provided and that I was unable to make a claim on the insurance for the theft as they had failed to insured it.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Please can you tell me what your friends' position has been on this so far so that I can advise? Thank you

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
They still want the money they paid into the repair of the roof, I can only pay them once I have sold my property in France
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

OK, thank you for your response. As we are practising lawyers and do this in our spare time there may be a slight delay in getting back to you as I am in the final day of a complex trial today so may not be out until late. Rest assured that I am dealing with your query and will respond as soon as I can, no later than tomorrow at the latest. 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 for your understanding

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Many thanks for your patience. It would be unlikely that you can deduct the money from a completely unrelated matter from the money paid for the property in question. Whilst the other party in both matters is the same, that does not mean that all debts and liabilities you may have against each other can be pooled together and offset against whatever other rights you have between each other. If the debt was related to the arrangement in question (e.g. they owed you money for repairs of the property, then you could potentially consider deducting that from the contribution they had made towards it). However, the issues with the trailer are completely unrelated to the property so you cannot just add these and offset them against that money. You would therefore have to consider pursuing them separately for any compensation for the issues with the trailer. This would be done by making a negligence claim against them if needed.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow should you decide to make a claim against them, 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 is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 months ago.

Thank you. 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. Before you consider starting legal action you may wish to consider sending a formal statutory demand. This is a legal request which asks the debtor to pay the outstanding debt within 21 days and failure to do so will allow you to bankrupt the debtor (if they are an individual ) or wind up the company (if they are a business). For the relevant forms to serve a statutory demand see here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-demands/forms-to-issue-a-statutory-demand

4. If you wish to go down the legal route instead of a statutory demand, 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.