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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71154
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Anyone out there who can advise on a potentially criminal matter?

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Anyone out there who can advise on a potentially criminal matter? I have made a complaint to a tradesman about his work, but have received a lurid, threatening email in response.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Jo.

I got a tradesman to fit a new pump in my garden hot tub. He's done work on my property before. I don't know him that well, but have had a friendly customer - tradesman relationship with him for a few months.

He made a complete bodge of the repair - and seriously damaged the jaccuzzi and I text him saying I wouldn't pay his invoice until he made good.


He replied with abusive texts. Last night I emailed him a courteous, firm and factual letter, setting out the whole situation.


This morning he replied making a load of lurid allegations that I had been sexually harrassing him, and threatened to make a complaint against me if I took my claim any further.


My local police have said they are interested in the email, and want to know more.


But I'm hesitant about taking the next step without knowing what I might be letting myself in for.


His allegations are absurd, preposterous, laughable even ... but worrying.

Obviously I haven't seen the email although I would be surprised if this amounted to an offence. I suppose you could argue its a malicious communication.

You are right to be concerned. If you make a report about a person over something that could always be ignored then the inevitable consequence is that you will give them a motivation to act against you. Serious crime is entirely different but at this level it is sometimes better to ignore things.

On the face of it though, I'm not sure what he could do to you. Even if the police consider it and take no action I'm not sure what you would lose.

If he is charged then the worst that could happen is that you will have to go coutt and give evidence and he will be acquitted. It wouldn't change your position under the civil law in relation to the work he has done.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Here's the relevant extracts - his references to 'emails and texts' from me are completely false. None exist.


'After yesterday's refusal from yourself to make payment for work carried out by myself I was relieved....

Relieved that I no longer will be working for you....

The continual Sexual Harassment from yourself has been very tiresome and something that i should never have had to been subjected to by yourself on more than 15 times....

Your continued attempts to 'give me a massage in your hot tub, to massage the lactate from my muscular legs....' have not been solicited from myself and have been declined at every advance from yourself as politely as to not be offensive by myself.... Yet you do not seem to understand the word 'No' and every time i have had to visit you have brought it up repeatedly... Even after i informed you i was seeing a woman and we were going out at the weekend you asked a couple of times after this....

I should not have to be subjected to this level of sexual harassment from a customer ever....

Stop harassing me, do not contact me again as i am relieved to no longer be working for you.

If you wish to take this further i have a history of your texts and emails trying to get me in your tub that i will use for a sexual harassment claim against you.

Have you sent any texts of that nature?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No absolutely nothing. I have all texts and emails I have sent to him - they are purely friendly contact between tradesman and customer. Nothing of this nature exists.

I really don't think you need to worry about that.

He doesn't have a claim against you then and even if he did, it doesn't mean he can escape liablility for botched work.

Im afraid I cannot see why the police would have an interest in that though. I suppose there may be a communication offence that applies but not one that I can see immediately.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I told the police I had received an email that contained a threat, and they asked for more info. But I wanted to speak to a lawyer first.


What should do? If I ignore him, he may see this as weakness and try to do more damage.


Or should I just ignore the threat and press on with the civil claim?


Or get my solicitor to send him a warning letter?

I see.

That email doesn't really amount to an unlawful threat. Its just an absurd allegation which can be malicious communication sometimes.

In terms of ignoring it, I think that given its nature you do need to respond denying it. Its too easy to make allegations of sexual misconduct.

A warning letter from a solicitor about the dangers of making false allegations wouldn't be a bad idea but it will rack up costs.

A denial response and a claim would be absolutely fine. The civil court will not be interested in whether or not you propositioned him.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK that's really helpful, thanks. I think I'll get a solicitors letter - can I engage you to do this (not as a justanswer expert! - obviously a professional engagement). I wanted to hit him with something quickly ... I fear my own solicitor will take ages even providing an appointment.

I was wondering whether a warning under the Malicious Communications Act 1988

I'm not allowed to take instructions directly under the rules of this site and anyway barristers can't write to anybody even under public access but if you tell me where you are roughly I could probably suggest somebody.

I do think that malicious communication is the only offence that could apply essentially because the communication is untrue.

They may also give him a harassment warning but that only gets him to stop contacting you which isn't really what you want here.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK cool. I'm in Chichester, west sussex. A suggestion of someone who could move quickly would be helpful.

Really grateful for your help, Jo.

I don't work down there very much at all so, in truth, couldn't recommend anybody.

One alternative is to make a report to trading standards which is free to do.

If you are intent then this firm

seem to deal with contract disputes.

I would normally suggest a barrister under public access who would be much cheaper and quicker but if you want somebody to write to him then it needs to be a solicitor.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thanks,. do you know a public access barrister in this area?

Oh yes, there are loads that do simple contract but they cannot send letters.

Try here