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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71042
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have a contract with Chubb Fire for the hire of 10 fire extinguishers

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I have a contract with Chubb Fire for the hire of 10 fire extinguishers in my office. It was signed by a colleague who though she was signing a service report form. In the contract it states a 5 year term. They condemned several of the extinguishers and I have bought new ones which are not hired from them. How can I get out of the contract? Regards, XXXXX XXXXX

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

When was the contract signed please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

4 January 2013, for 5 years from that date

Are there any cancellation clauses please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Can I scan and email the t's and c's to you?

Yes, you can send it [email protected] but include a link to this post so the mods know its for me.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo


Have you come to any conclusion regarding the contract from Chubb?





I have not seen the contract yet because it has not arrived however I know the company by reputation and it is highly likely that their paperwork is absolutely spot-on. Going through a lengthy contract of small print can take an hour or two and is actually beyond the scope of this site and the best we could do would be to have a cursory glance of it in any event.

Meanwhile, the situation is that unless the fire extinguisher company had reason to believe that the person did not have the authority to sign this agreement they have what is called implied authority where the company would be able to rely on the signature because there was no reason to believe that the person did not have the authority.

If this was a consumer contract which had been conducted away from the suppliers premises (which it appears it was) you would have seven days to cancel under the Distance Selling Regulations. However there is no similar provision for business contracts.

Legally, once you have signed something you are deemed to be bound by it even if you did not understand it and did not read it. The courts will sometimes I make exception to that in consumer contracts but rarely in commercial contracts.

If they decide to take you to court whether you could get out of this would depend on whether the court accepted your version of events that your colleague had been misled into signing what she was told was a service report form. If she thought it was but was not told that, that is not sufficient for their claim to fail. If she did not read it then provided they did not misrepresent it, then you are bound by it.

However it appears that the fire extinguisher company are not providing the service because you have bought fire extinguishers elsewhere. They are therefore not entitled to the full five-year fee.

If they take you to court you have a defence therefore that this is not a debt claim, it is a claim for damages/compensation. They are not entitled to the full amount of the fee if they have not provided the service but what they are entitled to is their loss of profit because you have cancelled the contract. It depends whether they take you to court or not.

If the amount they are claiming is under £10,000 it would normally be small claims court and therefore they will not get their costs back (solicitor's costs) even if their claim is successful. However there may be a term in the contract which says that they are entitled to recover the cost of enforcing the agreement. If that term is in there, they can recover their solicitor's costs in addition to the amount claimed (whatever the court allows) even if it is small claims court. That is because, if that term is in there, those costs are classed as contractual costs, not solicitor's costs for court recovery purposes.

They may be agreeable to accept a smaller sum to get out of the contract and in that respect I would advise that you tried to negotiate with them.

I'm sorry if this is bad news for you.

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