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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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A phone provider is trying to charge for breach of contract

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A phone provider is trying to charge for breach of contract on a roll over contract. The original contract was taken out at a former address for the company. The move resulted in new telephone numbers being issued. We were advised that the original contact was cancelled at the time of the move and a new contract started. We have not been able to get proof of a new contract but informed that as we continued to pay by direct debit for a period of more than six months a contract exists from the move date. I signed the original contract as a representative of the company which at the time was a partnership. Subsequently the partnership changed due to the death of the second partner and a limited company was formed with me as one of two directors. The original contract does not have a company name on it so is suggested that the contract is with me. We informed them of our intention to cancel some months prior to the expiry of the contract based on the move date. They suggest this should have been in writing via registered post as outlined in their terms and conditions.

Does the original contract still stand? Was the original correct in not having a company name, just an address? Does a contract exist due to continuing payments? Should the rollover date be from the original signed contract? Can they insist that note be given in writing.
Did you not give written notice?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

No unfortunatley the person dealing at the time thought that contracts could not be rolled over. We now know that it only applied to new contracts until the end of the year. We have a contract with a new provider so are now looking for a loophole!

The facts are a bit convoluted. Are they saying that you in effect had two contracts?

The original contract and a new one running at the same time?

What are they trying to enforce and what do you want to do?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

They say the signed contract dated May 2005 ended when we moved premises in 2006. A new one then started. The move was half way though a roll over period (3 yearly). They have not been able to provide proof of a new contract but stated that as we continued to pay for a "period of at least 6 months " a contract exists.

We are suggesting that if the original contract was cancelled where is the new one and does the fact that we continued to pay constitute a contract?

We now have a new contract with a new supplier started in November. We were given this date as the end of the contract when we contacted the original supplier by phone advising out intention to leave. No advice was given as to method of cancellation or that it would be rolled over without proper notice. They now say the contract we had should have rolled over in November, as notice was not given correctly, which was a thrice yearly anniversary of the move and could not be cancelled without written notice. They have now cancelled the contract and threatening to enforce a penalty of £1500 which we do not want to pay.

We are contesting the validity of the 2006 dated "contract", or alternatively that the roll over date should be from the signed contract in 2005.

Another issue is that the signed contract of 2005 has no company name entered so they suggest the contract is with me. At the time I was in partnership with my father but after his death my wife and I formed a limited company in 2008 but no new contract was issued then either.

So the issue is over £1500?

You have telephone service with another
supplier and that is not in jeopardy?

Who is the telephone supplier?

What date is this £1500 allegedly in respect

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes the new supplier is ok. The new supplier is LA Coms the old supplier we are in dispute with is Unicom. Unicom have not yet issued an invoice just a notice of intent.

So what period is this charge for?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

It is for the full 3 years the contract should run for when rolled over (nov 2012 - Nov 2015)

So they are saying that if you do not give notice, it rolls over into a new contract for three years?

So if you missed the notice deadline, you are stuck for another three years?

Does it say that in the original paperwork that you signed?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes the contract rolls over if notice is not given. The orignal contract(2005) has a supply period of 3 years and reference to the terms and conditions for supply.

The terms and conditions broadly state: the agreement will remain in force for the Initial Fixed supply period until terminated by the customer giving Unicom not less than 3 months written notice to expire at the end of the inital fixed supply period or any subsequent supply period and the customer arranging for the service to be transferred to another supplier with 30 days.

However our argument is that a new contract was never signed when we moved. We may have agreed over the phone but they can offer no conformation of this only offering the six months or more continous payment after the date as proof of contract.

The original contract was breached when we moved in 2006 and took a new phone number as stated in the terms and conditions by "the customer ceasing to be responsible for the number".Hence the original contract being terminated.

Based upon those words, the way I read it is that they can only ask for three months notice.

In the definitions part of the agreement what does it say with regard to Initial Fixed supply period.. Those words begin with a capital letter, so there must be a definition somewhere.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I don't have the contract with me as I am at home. One of the disagreements we have is they they are suggesting that a continuation to pay is proof a contract exists. Is this the case?

It can be but you can always argue you paid by mistake. That works in law.

Clearly he knows a little about the law, but not enough!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

So to sum up: The contract from 2005 ended in 2006 when we moved. A new contract could exist from 2006, which Unicom have not provided a record of, due to fact that we continued to pay unless we argue that this was a mistake?

That's it. The fact that you continue to pay is no proof that a contract existed. It may be, but is not absolute proof.

Remember,, do not try to deal with this on the telephone because you will be speaking to an idiot who simply regurgitates the book at you . Put everything in writing

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for your help I will e-mail them. Just in case I they come back with yet another excuse can I hold back from rating you for the moment? It will be positive!!

Of course you can, but the thread remains open in any event.

It doesn't close and I do not ignore you after I get paid!