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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71129
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We signed a 12 month contract with an HR advice provider, which

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We signed a 12 month contract with an HR advice provider, which had a 6 month notice period. We paid monthly, by DD. After complaining of poor service at month 9, they offered compensation (the last 3 months free) as a 'gesture of goodwill, in full and final settlement', which we accepted, on the understanding that they would give absolute assurances about their service, and end the agreement at month 12, allowing us to start afresh if we wished. This was ignored, and they took the last 3 payments (by DD) anyway. After the last payment, we advised that, under the circumstances, we did not wish to enter into a second 12 month agreement. They have auto-renewed anyway, taking our dissatisfaction as notice on this second 12 months, the entirety of which is payable, but they have applied the first 4 months free, to compensate for not suspending payment on last three months of the original 12 months, which they say was an error. Can they enforce this second 12 months?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What period of notice does your contract demand?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
6 months
Did you give six months notice?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
no - our complaint arose at month 9
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
hello ?
That is not good news Im afraid.
In those circumstances, you would seem to be bound. The contract demands six months and you only gave three. Therefore the notice was inadequate and the contract roles over.
If you are prepared to contest this then you can always challenge it on the basis that the notice periods and the rolling period are too long and so potentially void under UCTA but it is a long shot I'm afraid. Generally speaking, courts are less sympathetic to business than to consumers.
I'm very sorry but that is your position and I have to give you truthful information.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
yes please. I understand that, in simple terms, but you do not appear to have taken on board that the company effectively breached the contract by not providing adequate service, which they acknowledged by offering compensation (though did not apply it) or that there was an impossibility of performance with regard to giving 6 months' notice, when the complaint arose at month 9.
That doesn't void the contract.
That just gives rise to a claim in compensation or, more likely, a complaint.
Very few breaches strike at the heart of contracts.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
thank you. what about a complaint at month 9, where there is a 6 month notice period? And that the agreement as only a 12 month agreement in the first place?
Well, either way. A complaint is not notice.
Even if there are breaches of the contract they do not amount to ones that allow you to leave on the basis of repudiation unless they strike at the heart of the contract or, of course, you are within the first six months in which case you can give notice for any reason you like.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
thank you. so they can re-new the contract for another 12 months, after not delivering the compensation offered and accepted, and apply compensation to the second term instead?
They can renew on the grounds above.
Your claim in compensation is separate. If they made a full and final offer then they should comply with it but failure to do so would just revive your claim in compensation rather than give rise to a clam for what was agreed.
In truth, they probably wouldn't sue.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much. All a very salutary lesson. This is a company with a £74milllion turnover. We would not wish to risk a court case, where our situation may be viewed in such a hard-headed manner, which is probably likely, so I suspect we would be best just paying up. Or at least, offering to settle at perhaps 50%. In any event, again, thank you very much indeed.
If you don't want to go to court then make a full and final settlement offer. They will probably take a much lower sum than the full contract price.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** try that. Not sure how to word it, but we will come up with something. I wish I had studied law !!!!
Thank you again.
Just send them a letter saying that you have various complaints and have not received the offer that they made. You wish to cancel and do not wish to renew for twelves months. You are not willing to pay for the remaining twelve months but you are prepared to offer 50% in full and final settlement on a no admissions basis.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We kind of HAVE received the offer they made. They unilaterally applied 4 months free service (June-Sept inclusive) on a renewal, and we knew nothing about it until now, when they say we are two months in arrears! We didn't get an invoice for Oct, nor Nov, but now they are saying the entire year has become payable, because of the arrears, which is also in the contract.
But that isn't the offer they made?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
they applied (not offered) 4 months free service on the second year, because they had failed to deliver it on the first year.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
an extra month of free service, as an apology
You could argue over that.
the truth is that even if they did sue they would only have a claim for lost profits which is nothing like the price of the contract and they will know that. Therefore, settling in some way ould be appealing to them.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
we had accepted the first offer, on condition that the contract ended, ............. sorry this crossed with your reply.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
the entire year should cost us £1,943.04. They have allowed 4 months free (£647.68) leaving £1,295.36 payable. Now that I do the maths, it doesn't amount to all that much, but the principal is worth much more. Am I being too prissy about this?
Well, then your claim in compensation is revived. The first offer was dependent on the contract ending.
I think you could argue it. You are locked in but then they owe you something in compensation too.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. You have been most helpful, and I appreciate your straight talking. I will go and lick my wounds now, and sort it out on Monday................... and never ever enter into a 12 month contract again, with a 6 month notice period !
Thank you.
No problem. All the best.
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