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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Am I legally obligated to pay these incurred fees?

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I am a software contractor. I was in the process of looking for a new job and landed a new contract. The background checking was taking a month and during that time I got another offer from a previous large company I had been working for which I took. I ended up having two signed contracts. I notified the first agency that I wouldn't be able to do the work for their client, (three days before having to start working for them).

This was about 20 days ago.

I would like to know whether the company with which I had initially signed a contract has any legal grounds to request that I cover the fee they paid for my background check? I am fine with paying this amount (as per their calculations -- 600 GBP including VAT), as they claim they have incurred a loss of an estimated 10 0000 GBP. I very much doubt that:

- My background check cost that much. (A DBS / Disclosure Scotland costs roughly around 30-40 pounds; the background checks that rental and hiring agencies do, roughly costs ~200-300 GBP).

- They have incurred losses of 10 000 GBP.


I will pay their fee either way, as I had an obligation to them and they invested time in this. However, how can I make sure they will not charge anything further after this? Do we need to have some sort of settlement agreement which concludes this matter and could you go over it, if I do sign one?


Please advise,

My thanks in advance!

Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Have they said how they have incurred such large costs?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No, they haven't. I would say that those are due to the fact that I haven't started and, therefore, they have nobody to do the job. Either way, as I have not started working for them at all, I believe the contract is not in effect and legally, the shouldn't be in a position to claim that loss against me.

I am going to pay the 600, despite the fact that the agency said it would be 500 (and they're actually putting VAT on top of that).

My questions were really:

1) Do they really have any legal grounds for this at all?

2) If I were to pay the money, shouldn't I at least be getting some sort of settlement agreement in writing, that they cannot claim anything further?

Please advise!

Thank you for your response I am working in a tribunal today. I will review all the information given to me
and get back to you later in the day with my advice on how to proceed with this.
please do not respond to this as this may push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience delays.
Many thanks for your patience. As far as your legal position is concerned, you have technically acted in breach of contract so they could consider pursuing you for any damages which they have incurred as a result of your actions. However, any such damages must be reasonable, unavoidable and they must be able to show that they had taken steps to try and minimise them as much as possible.
In the case of the background check, if they had already incurred those costs and could not recover any of them, which basically mean they were wasted costs as the check is now of no use, they could potentially recover these. However, they must be able to justify that these costs were actually incurred. So you can ask for evidence of this.
The same applies to the other costs, which I must say are very high. They may have lost out on some fees, but any further costs must be justified. They have a duty to minimise these losses, so they should start looking for a replacement straight away. If they have done nothing to do that then they will be responsible and should take some blame for the costs. They should have started looking for someone new ASAP to reduce these losses and ensure that there are no ongoing costs. So again, they would be required to justify these costs and there will be greater scrutiny as their claim is so high.
So they will have grounds to pursue some costs but it will be based on the factors mentioned above. If you were to pay anything then you may certainly request that there is an agreement in place which makes it clear that it is in full and final settlement of any claims they may have against you in relation to this.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for clarifying things and thanks for your services!

You are welcome all the best