How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Alex J. Your Own Question
Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3652
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
Type Your Law Question Here...
Alex J. is online now

I am preparing legal action for a financial claim against a

Customer Question

Hello, I am preparing legal action for a financial claim against a start up for which I was a co-founder and had verbal and written contracts breached. I have a number of protocol related questions that arise from pre-action conduct, for which there is quite substantial email correspondence (see below). I suspect it would be easier to arrange a call to discuss the exchanges and the questions:Questions:
1. There was an original claim from 2016 that we attempted to settle through a compromise which involved a contract that I contend they breach (and they contend that I repudiated). How "valid" would it be in the eyes of a court for me reverting to my original claim
2. What is the validity of verbal agreements, which is what underpins my claim
3. How valid would their counterclaim be in court?
4. Are there ramifications/liability if I do not redact without prejudice claims and other sensitive information on tax compliance in a court filing?
5. What rights does the company have to my personal (tax, business) information
6. What additional steps are mandatory to be considered to have met the requirements for pre-action protocolsThe correspondence in question exceeds 5000 words and is about 7 printed pages. Can you advise how I could submit for review?
Submitted: 6 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 4 days ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Hello Nicola, and thanks for the update.I suspect one problem might be the lack of context for the questions. I refer to 7 pages of background correspondence, and I wonder if it would be worthwhile for me to try and update my question with a summary of this background and then arrange a call? Please advise what might facilitate a reply from a contract lawyer?Chris
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 4 days ago.
We will continue to look for a Professional to assist you. I have not had any feedback from Experts on this question, however I have sent it directly to all Experts, so they will be able to see you have requested a phone call to discuss.
Thank you for your patience,
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 days ago.

Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. To answer your questions:

1. Was the original claim issued in court - did you sign any settlement agreement?

2. Verbal contract are valid in English law - if you have an exchange of promises of value and an intent to create legal relations, that is a contract regardless of whether it is written. The problem you will have is evidence it, it is your word against theirs;

3. Bringing the claim is their prerogative rightly or wrongly - if the claim is frivolous, without merit or without evidence, you could apply to have it struck out and they could risk being penalised in costs;

4. If you allow an open court to see WP correspondence and do it deliberately the court could penalise you in costs for wasting time - also the evidence would just be inadmissible. I would advise you redact it.

5. None - unless you bring a claim and this is some how relevant to the claim.

6. Can you confirm which protocol you are following? Or do you need advice on this?

I could review the bank ground correspondence, if you can post it to this link, but it may take a day or so.

Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Hello Alex and thank you for the reply. Last week I had committed to provide a formal response to the company in question by COP today. I can produce a bullet point summary of the main points within the hour - what is your availability to review this today and also arrange a phone call by end of play today or (very) first thing tomorrow?Chris
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 days ago.

Hi, Thank you. I can review a bullet point summary tonight. I am afraid I am not currently available for a conference call. If you can send me something I will review the summary. Is the deadline a court deadline? Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 2 days ago.
Alex, it has taken me time to thoroughly review 30 plus pages of correspondence to generate the summary, which I am attaching. In doing so another question arrises, which I think it only fair to treat as separate to the procedural questions you've mostly answered.This question pertains to my right to declare a company in breach of contract for issuing me an ultimatum over changing the terms of delivery to a fixed prices basis (when I declared them in breach they agreed to revert to pro-rated daily billing, and insisted they had remedied the situation and that I was obliged to continue. I maintained that they breached the terms of the contract and they declared that they were terminating the contract because of my refusal to abide by it and deliver services)I'm happy to submit this question separately to you for separate billing, or to agree an enhanced price for this string - especially if we can arrange a one hour call.Kind regards,Chris
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 days ago.

Thank you. I have just received this, I will review it tonight. Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 1 day ago.
Thank you Alex, I look forward to hearing back from you
Customer: replied 1 day ago.
Alex, I was hoping to have heard back from you. I know my question(s) are lengthy, however I am not time pressed to have answers for tomorrow which is a drop-deadline for a formal reply that I must give, into which the legal opinion is a key part.Could you confirm that you can answer the questions by tomorrow, otherwise I will need to go back through the system and resubmit tomorrow morning for urgent attention. My original question was posted Friday, July 14.Thanks in advance,Chris
Expert:  Alex J. replied 11 hours ago.

Thank you. My apologies I had to travel unexpectedly yesterday. I am writing up my response now. Kind regards AJ

Expert:  Alex J. replied 10 hours ago.

Thank you for your patience. The main issue here is whether they could unilaterally change the terms of the contract and thereby force you to accept what amounted to a lower contractual price for the work completed? The answer to this is no - they cannot unilaterally change the terms of the contract, and then claim a breach. If the contract terminated as a result of a break down in relations, clearly not arising from your breach then you can claim all your losses that arises as a naturally occurring consequence of the breach - this would be the contractual price in this instance. If you actually did the work they asked and they are now taking full benefit of the product of that work, then I think they will struggle to claim that there was no verbal contract. Did you have any email correspondence discussing the sweat equity?

Customer: replied 10 hours ago.
Thanks Alex. I think I may not have summarised the situation properly, as you seem to have misinterpreted the situation.
-we had a verbal contract, work was performed that they benefited from, but they breached this contract
-This gave rise to my Original Claim, discussed over email and in person, where I claimed the sweat equity an £20k in back pay. No court or 3rd party was involved
-a without-prejudice compromise was negotiated, which (1) provided the pre-agreed sweat equity, (2) agreed to pay £10k for additional past work not covered by the sweat equity, without explicitly referring to it as such by (3) structuring this £10k payment as £5k non refundable retainer and £5k "completion bonus" around a new contract for additional work.
-the £5k was never paid because they tried to alter the terms through ultimatum of this new contract that would have resulted in high risk of lower price to me. I declared they were in breach in doing so, and claimed the £5k as I was entitled to do if the company took action that prevented me from completing the contract
-they withdrew the demand for change of terms, insisting the contract was still valid and then when I refused to accept the validity of this position they declared a repudiatory termination.About this contract position, I wish to know if I was fully entitled to declare a breach and refuse their offer of remediation of terms, and therefore have entitlement to the £5k, or whether the contract rights do in fact favour them?The other question then is, since this without prejudice compromise attempt failed due to their bad faith behaviour, can I revert to my Original Claim?Please indicate if you are able to deal with this by noon BST so that I can make alternative arrangements otherwise?Chris