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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22630
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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We owe £11,000 to a storage company and wanted to negotiate

Customer Question

We owe £11,000 to a storage company and wanted to negotiate a settlement with them so we could get our possessions back and were talking to them directly to see if we could come to a amicable settlement. We thought we were making progress, but then they went quiet. We then received a letter from a legal recoveries company chaseing us for the money. After playing ping pong email with the recoveries company, we offered to pay the storage company £8,500 as a settlement figure, which they agreed to. We thought everything was agreed, until the storage company then told us we had to pay an additional £1,000 legal costs. We then asked the questions via the recoveries company, why we had to pay this as we were in direct contact with the storage company in the first place and there was no need for legal costs to be incurred.
We also asked them to provide costs for removing and delivering our good to a new address we were moving to on 28th March, giving the postcode so the storage company could give an accurate quote.
We waited for the answers to both of the above, but The recoveries team went quiet, we sent numerous emails asking what was happening, they didn't respond at all. Then out of the blue, we received a Court summons from the storage company requesting £14,500 . A breakdown accompanied the court papers, yet the storage company failed to disclose the payments we had previously made on the account. Therefore the figures were wrong. Even though the storage company were well aware we were moving on the 28th of the month, the court papers were issued on the 27th and sent to our old address.
By the time we received them, the 14 days where we could respond had passed and a judgement was issued.
We applied to the court to have the judgement set aside, sending all correspondences supporting our request. A date for the court hearing has been set for October. Even though the storage company advised us they would vigorously challenge setting aside the judgement, we have now had an urgent email from their solicitors saying the storage company have taken a commercial decision and have agreed to have the judgement set aside, saying it's due to costs and time (Sent without prejudice) and have sent a consent form for us to sign providing we send particularised defence to the claimant within 14 days after signing the document.

The problem is, we have tried everything we could to settle this out of court with the company, even agreeing a settlement figure but with no success.

Why would they do this now?

Should we go to court and explain that an agreement had been made, hoping the judge will be on our side, or should we agree to sign the consent order?

We had to borrow the £8,500 from my father-in-law, but he is very ill with Melanoma, so we could not even ask to borrow more money. All we wanted to do was pay this agreed amount and have our possessions back.
Thank you for listening
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your question here on Just answer. It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me if I need to ask for any further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully. My name is Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.

Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case. I will be online and off-line all day most weekdays and weekends.

Have the company refused to accept any form of settlement? What settlement have you offered to date?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

No, we offered the company £8,500 in full and final settlement and they agreed to it. The company knew we had to borrow the money and that's all we could get.


They then came back to us and requested another £900 on top of the 8.5k to cover their legal costs. We disputed it because we could not raise another 900

Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

cases like this, I never suggest making an offer. I suggest sending a cheque not to to sols but to storage co.
Armed with a cheque in the hand for some of the amount that a person wants,
compared to an argument over the whole of the amount, (and arguments that the
person may win or lose) the cheque in the hand is a pretty powerful incentive
to accept it.

consider deciding how much you would like to pay the claimant (you need to make
it attractive enough) and send it with a covering letter headed "without
prejudice save as to costs". That means that the person cannot produce the
letter in court as any proof that you admit owing any money at all.

the claimant in the letter that you are offering this money in full and final
settlement of all claims against you, past, present and future, including legal
costs and that by cashing it they accept it as such. Tell the person that if he/she
does not accept it, they should return the cheque to you and if they issue
legal proceedings, you will defend them on the basis of A, B, C, whatever.

Do tell the claimant that this is not
your money (because you do not have it) and that it has come from someone else
who has agreed to discharge the debt for you.

the claimant that if he/she does not understand the significance of the letter,
he/she should take independent legal advice.

can tell you this approach works nine times out of 10, provided the offer is
reasonable and not derisory.

For legal reasons which I will not bore you with but which
go back several hundred years, the cheque must not come from you, but most come
from a third party, friend, relative, solicitor, our accountant, neighbour,
girlfriend, wife, husband, whoever, just not from you.

Here is some rather heavy reading



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Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

On Monday, the judgement is likely to be set aside. Quite simply
because you have responded to everything and the correspondence went to an old
address presumably through the solicitor's fault (either accidentally or

It then means that you are back to negotiation and in that
respect, I still think you can rely on the letter and the cached cheque if
indeed it has been cashed.

You could raise this with the judge on Monday and say that this
issue has now been resolved because you sent the letter (let the judge have the
letter) and they have cash the cheque (if they have) so there is no need for it
to return to court.

The other side may object to that and the judge will either
decide to deal with it therein then or he will set the judgement aside and wait
for another hearing when the whole thing will be decided.

Please remember that there appears to be no issue over the fact
that you owe £11,000. It is now a case of whether they will accept (if they
have not cash the cheque) £9500 including costs. If not, the argument is not
over the £11,000 but it is over the solicitor's costs and if this goes to a
full trial, they will most certainly be over £5000

On the basis of what information you have given me, I cannot see
how there can yet be £5000 of the legal costs although there will be if this
goes to a full trial.

If that happens, and they lose, their client is going to get
nothing in all probability will probably not please them very much