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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10251
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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We have a number of questions about construction law to help

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We have a number of questions about construction law to help us work out how to deal with a difficult contractor. We are a social enterprise run by volunteers. Our questions are:
1. Is a contractor always responsible for the quality of their work, regardless of the nature of the contract under which they are employed? If not, what are the circumstances when they cannot be held responsible for defective work and when they can expect the employer to pay them for rectifying their defective work? (Are there particular laws/rules/ understandings that apply to builders?)
2. When there is a contract and some additional work is undertaken for which no formal instruction was issued but the work was paid for under the contract (eg appears in the contract final account), what’s the contractual position? Is there a particular form that a variation or addition to a contract needs to take in order to make it a legal contract?
3. What is the legal meaning of being employed “under supervision”, and what are the limits of the supervisor’s responsibility?
4. What is the legal meaning of being employed “in attendance”, in terms of limits of responsibility?
5. If a contractor is notified of a defect in their work, asked if they will undertake a task to rectify it, and the contractor turns up, and carries out the task with no reference to payment, can they reasonably charge for that rectification work later?
6. Does it make any difference if agreements are oral rather than in writing? What standing do an oral statement by one party, acceptance of it by the other party, and a contemporaneous note made by the other party have when the first party later ignores his statement and the note, ie reneges on what he said?

A verbal contract is just as enforceable as a written contract provided the terms are not in dispute.

Sometimes, a written contract will have a provisioning called a “whole agreement clause” which is a clause doing exactly what it says and says that this is the whole agreement unless anything is attached and in writing.

For there to be a contract there needs to be an offer and acceptance (verbal or written). If the acceptance is qualified such as when someone accepts it with a variation, that is not an acceptance but a counter offer which would be subject to further acceptance.

Any work carried out on a contract has to be carried out with reasonable care and skill under the terms of the earlier Supply of Goods and Services Act or the newer Consumer Rights Act. What is reasonable care and skill is a matter of fact. The main contractor is responsible to the customer and any subcontractors are responsible to the main contractor. The exception would be the subcontractor was engaged by the customer. It would be most unusual for a contractor or subcontractor to be paid for remedial work unless it was as a result of some defective instruction or change of requirements of the customer.

If you could explain your situation in more detail along with any matters arising I may be able to assist you further.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Best wishes


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