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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71031
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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A friend of mine took a camper van to be restored over two

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A friend of mine took a camper van to be restored over two years ago. They were told it would be a 12 week job. It is now sitting, with no engine, completely stripped apart, in a workshop with nothing being done on it. They are being told repeatedly that "the job is taking longer than we thought", but very little progress is being made. They have no paperwork, but they have been paying as they go along and have a few emails detailing a vague plan of work. They feel helpless because if they remove the van, it goes to the bottom of someone else's pile and they have to pay for it again. In my mind, they should have paperwork, but the fact that money has exchanged hands forms some sort of contract. Please can you help?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Basically the work needs to be done to get the van back, as it is in pieces. It also needs an accurate time schedule. The company has had it for two years and doesn't care. They have paid a fair amount of money and I am wondering if they have any grounds for either claiming that money back so they can get the work done elsewhere, or whether a letter could speed up the process at all. I appreciate that it is a difficult situation!
Did you agree that time was of the essence?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No. They were told it would take 12 weeks and were very reasonable about it when told it was a more difficult job than first anticipated. However, two years on the company is making endless excuses about not making progress. Both summers my friends said they wanted to be able to use the van and were told it "should" be done.
Yes, two years is unreasonable. Whatever the level of work required within two years it could have been done or a decision made to abandon it.
I do think that they need to warn them though before taking action. I would suggest sending them one letter giving them 28 days to complete the work or return the van with a full refund. Of course they won't do it but the warning letter has been sent. You could even try to make time of the essence in the letter. Make clear that if these demands are not met then they will sue.
If they do not comply then you can issue here
for the money and on these facts you would win.
Return of the campervan is more complicated. The small claims court procedure is all very well but its for money claims not orders to return vans. They could seek an injunction forcing them to return but that would be expensive although they could recover costs from the garage. Or they could just sue at the small claims court for the value of the van which is cheaper and it would probably lead to the return of the van.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you so much Jo, this is good advice. Would you recommend getting a lawyer to write the warning letter or is it something they should write themselves?
Thank you so much for all your help.
You can do that. It does have a greater impact if you ge a solicitor to do it. But it does rack up costs and whether they want to incur those costs is a matter for them. Probably a solicitor would do it for under £100 plus VAT.
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