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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71146
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have contracted with a supplier renovation on a particular

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I have contracted with a supplier for a renovation on a particular item. They have supplied it, but it doesn't work to the purpose built (it's a piece of glass that divides two rooms that is 'privacy' glass - goes opaque at the flick of a switch. I have chased and chased but have no answers on how they will rectify and want to escalate the issue to reclaim the money. My question for now - what is the expense of legal action against them likely to be?
Additional context - the piece of glass and installation was about £10k. The contract protects them to the value of something that a competitor would supply as an alternative so I'm probably looking at reclaiming £5-6k. Is legal action the best course ?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What is the nature of the fault please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo -

The fault is that the glass installed is supposed to be 'switchable' i.e. an electrical current is run through the glass and that allows the glass to move from transparent to opaque. The glass installed has wires attached, but has never been seen working. The response from the installer is that for whatever reason, they cannot complete an electrical circuit in the glass - they need to figure out another way of doing it - they've sent an engineer under much duress and then there has been nothing by way of follow up to even present a plan of when it should be fixed or even if it can. My view at the moment is that this glass may not actually be 'privacy glass' at all - it acts like standard glass which is worth a much lower price. Appreciate that legal action is likely to be expensive and I have to decide if it's worth it - or whether even instigating action could do the trick and get them to find a solution

When did they send the electrician out?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So timeline is this - contract signed with deposit paid in Nov '14. Plans drawn, 95% paid before final installation. Installation after some shenanigans happened in mid-March. Part was missing, came back once. Various promises made about making a new part (promises then broken) and an engineer came round on the 21st of July. Radio silence since. Supplier claimed he was at the mercy of installer, but contract is with supplier (no reliance on 3rd party)

Has the engineer given you any idea of time line at all?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

None at all - but for clarity I'm only engaging directly with the supplier. The engineer has only been when I have contractors on site. I don't have contact details for him, only the supplying company. Estimate for installation was 8-10 weeks from signed acceptance form and deposit (which should have been mid Feb latest).

Why are you only claiming 5-6k?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

This is just my thinking on what their liability is in accordance with the contract -

"Seller's liability shall be limited to the excess (if any) of the cost to the buyer (in the cheapest available market) of similar goods and/or services to replace those not delivered over the price of the Goods and/or Services".

My reading of this clause was that the difference between 'standard' glass and what I expected to be installed is about £5-6k. Frankly, I just want the original thing I ordered, and if that means I could aim to claim the full amount back, that's great but I suspect they would fight that far harder at a guess. What do you think of the situation ?

Just to be clear, originally it cost £10k
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

£10.6k including VAT.

Thank you.
This is just covered by the supply of goods and services legislation and the plain fact is that they have given you a product that does not work in the way they described which they seem to accept.
The options are very simple. They have to either ensure that it does work. They seem to be saying that they cannot do that.
If so then they need to replace it or offer a full refunds.
You're not under a duty to accept a lesser sum.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi -

Thanks for the response - the real thing I was driving at though is the likely legal cost of the action : I'm pretty sure that they are in breach of contract (and fall foul of the legislation) but if court costs/solicitors time etc would be £10k, there is little point doing it, just to get satisfaction - particularly if my costs were not recoverable. I know it's probably a 'how long is a piece of string' question but I'm trying to get a handle on what it costs to bring an action like this to court....

If it is in excess of £10k then there will be a cost I'm afraid.
If you do it yourself then probably it would be around £1000.
If you instruct solicitors then it would rack up costs. Probably about £5k - £10k.
The advantage though is that you could recover costs from the merchant.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you - this is just a tiny final question - you mention that if it is in excess of £10k there is a difference, could you just let me know what this is ? Do courts treat a product under £10k differently ?

The product itself cost under £10k, but the VAT puts it above (arguably cost of product is therefore less than £10k).

Thank you for the answer so far btw

No, but the claim cut off sum if £10k.
If it were under £10 k it would be a small claims court sum.
Your claim is for more than £10k.
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