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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71053
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We have an email from a builder quoting a price for a job and

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We have an email from a builder quoting a price for a job and a start date which we have accepted verbally and also by intent through various emails discussing the works and commencement dates. he did not appear on the start date and then refused to do the works. We then remonstrated with him and he finally sent in a revised quotation which was considerably more expensive. Did we have a legally binding contract with him in the first instance?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Why did he refuse?
What reason did he give?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

He originally verbally agreed to do the work the price which he finally confirmed by email. Then he changed his mind and said he wanted to re quote , this he did in writing. I refused this quote as it was to expensive and advised him so.

He also built a garage for us which there was a final payment due. He called round to resolve one or two outstanding issues to allow me to make the final payment and whilst he was here after discussion he verbally agreed to do the additional work for the original price and confirmed this by email. The price he quoted included two days labour for 4 men and an additional cost of £62 per hour if the job went over this time . I asked him by email to try end ensure the job was completed within the two days and also in the same email asked him to confirm how many men the £62 per hour would. There was also some discussion about what was to be done with him agreeing verbally one thing and then trying to wriggle out of these agreements in writing. So in summary you could conclude that he felt he was not getting paid enough for the works. His wife who handles the admin also stated that no job was ever undertaken without a written quotation and categorically denied that her husband had agreed to the works ,price and commencement date even though we have an email advising of all three.

Hope this helps


An agreement does not have to be in writing to be enforceable. However if there is a dispute over what was agreed, it becomes problematical if it is simply your word against the other person.
In order for there to be a binding contract there needs to be an offer and an acceptance which can, as I said, be verbal.
In this particular case he offered to do the job in an email and you possibly accepted it by email although it depends whether the content of the emails from you to him do actually say to go ahead on a particular date or whether they involve discussion.
At this stage in time, the court even if it went to court and you were successful the court will not compel him to do the job. The other issue that you need to be aware of, and I am sure that you are, is that if you force him to do the job, he will do no more than is adequate.
What you would do in cases like this and it is as risk-free as it can be, is to get another contract to do the job and if it costs more than this person, sue the original contract for the difference in price.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

In one email (3/10/14) I wrote to him confirming that the scaffolder would erect the scaffolding on the 16th October and asked him to confirm that dates he would be attending to undertake the works. He wrote back by email on the same day to say that he would be able to get there week commencing 27th October and that he needed to clear up the final payment for the garage before he could commence the new works. I did clear all payments' to him very shortly after this.

I do not want him to come back to site and as of today appointed another contractor. I just want to know if there is a winnable legal case for breach of contract and a claim for damages based on non performance , distress and any other costs involved.

thank you


You have a claim for breach of contract. It will not be easy to win and the outcome would depend on who's version of events the judge believes and what evidence there is to support those events.
You are unlikely to get anything for the stress and inconvenience although if you do, it's going to be a nominal sum
if you get the job done by another builder at the same price, it is probably not worth the inconvenience and stress of actually taking it to court.
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