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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10389
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I am looking to do some alterations to my house & invited an

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I am looking to do some alterations to my house & invited an architect to visit .....he laid out all his costs which I said were okay but made an initial appointed so I could meet him & go through the project. When he arrived I was a bit disappointed that he only did the drawing for a project & did not work with any builders. Anyway I stupidly allowed him to measure the house for the project &'twas in fact here for 3 & a half hours....I couldn't wait to get rid of him. When he left I didn't feel he was right for the job& met another architect which I am now using. Two days after the first architect visited received a letter from him s thanking me for appointing him. I then wrote an email to him saying that I wouldn't be using him as I had found an architect that has a team of builders.
He emailed back saying that he had actually started the plans & had made good progress so sent an invoice for £750 (his initial email laid out his total cost would be£1000). He had also initially said that once he started it would take at least two weeks to come back with any plans & now he was saying he was almost finished them!
I told him I wouldn't be paying for his time as I did not confirm that he had the job & there is nothing in writing.
I have now just received a recorded delivery of a letter from him saying that he will take legal action if I do not pay. He also put many words into my mouth basically saying we had a verbal agreement which we did not!
My question is am I legally bound to pay for his time?
Any answer is much appreciated.
Thanks & regards
Moira Billington

A verbal agreement is binding in exactly the same way as a written agreement.

The difficulty with his claim is that you didn’t tell him to go ahead and he says you did.

There is no proof that you told him to go ahead so if this went to court, it would depend who the judge believed on the day.

These matters are decided on the balance of probabilities and hence, the judge only needs to prefer one person’s version of events slightly more than the other and that persons claim or defence will succeed.

You ask whether you’re legally bound to pay for his time, not based upon what you have told me where you quite simply didn’t tell him to proceed.

If he is minded to issue Small Claims Court proceedings, you will have to defend them.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please rate the service positive. It is an important part of the process by which experts get paid. It does not cost you anything but helps us greatly.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for this although it does worry me that he is insisting that at no time did I say I would let him know ....which I didn't but I also didn't agree to many of the things he says I did. He keeps going back to the fact that I let him measure up which is part of the fees this correct? Also I live abroad & only here for the summer so do not want this hanging over me we
Hen I leave at the end of this month.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry that should say when not Hen!!

It appears that he presumed you wanted him to go ahead.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable that he would have to measure up before giving you a quote in any event. It does seem somewhat unusual that he spent a long length of time there particularly if you had not instructed him to go ahead.

I think this is the case of breakdown of communications on his side and a load of assumptions.

You could pay him a nominal amount if you wanted to get rid of it and I could tell you how to deal with that so that he doesn’t claim it’s a part payment. Otherwise, you are waiting for him to get round to issuing court proceedings which he could well do while you are away and then, if you didn’t get that paperwork, you would be coming back to a county court judgement which you would then have to set aside and the fee for setting it aside on its own is £255.

F E Smith and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you

The wording of the heading of letter containing any kind of offer which we spoke about is, “Without Prejudice Save as to Costs”

With that wording, he cannot produce the letter in court as any kind of admission that you are anyway liable because it gets treated as a genuine attempt to settle and get rid of the matter rather than an admission of guilt or liability.

Best wishes