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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71041
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We have a contract with a haulier company. They have given

Customer Question

We have a contract with a haulier company. They have given us a quote to move furniture, claiming from the list of items submitted that the volume is some 160 cu.metres, whereas another contractor states the volume is close to 6 cu.metres. The contract states that unless the contract is cancelled within ten days of pick up, there will be penalties imposed. We sent them an email ten days prior pick up asking if any penalties would be due, should we cancel, the company avoided answering the question, at that time. Now claim the question did not indicate that we were considering cancelling and want to with hold 20% of the fee, part of the 20% would be a VAT element.
What is your advice?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Why did you not state that you wished to cancel?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We did not state that we wanted to cancel because we asked the Company if instead of delivering the furniture to Malta could they deliver it to France and would they let us have a quote, in the first place. Secondly we asked them how they had arrived at the volume, which was the basis of the charge, and they said that the list of items indicated that sort of volume, which is probably not the case. We asked them if they would review the volume question( if they shipped to France) they initially said yes then said they couldn't do it.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Can I just check that both if these contracting companies are uk based?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
One is UK based the other is an individual who travels between the UK and France on an ongoing basis.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
As long as he maintains an office here of some form then he can be sued here.

In a nutshell though, he can't have penalties. Penalties amount to a fine which is unlawful under UCTA.

If you act in breach of contract then your contractual partner can claim the actual sum of their loss. If you cancel when time is short then there might well be loss caused and you may have to compensate him but he cannot have blanket penalties of this nature.

I'm due in court this morning so I need to go offline for about an hour but I'll be on again at 10 ish if you want to know anything else about this.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Just to clarify! The Company has an acceptance Form which my son signed, and one of the items listed is " Cancellation Fees" are these considered as penalties under UK Law? Am I in a position to advise the company that they can be sued ?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
It doesn't matter what he signed. If its an unlawful penalty then its an unlawful penalty.

if you cancel unlawfully then they can only claim the sum of their loss.