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JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 4474
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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If a workman says I owe him money (and I know I don't) does

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If a workman says I owe him money (and I know I don't) does the burden of proof lie with him to prove the debt?
JA: Where is he? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: England
JA: What steps has he taken so far?
Customer: Sent me a statement (never sent any invoices) showing 3 invoice numbers totalling £3000 and threatened will sell debt on. This is first contact since completing work 2 years ago (and my bank transfer to pay him which he acknowledges)
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: N

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I am a qualified lawyer happy to help you today.

Yes indeed, as the claimant he has to prove his claim against you, so he would have to show evidence of a contract whereby you would be legally bound to pay him. The courts always look at proof - there is a 51% burden of proof in the civil courts so if he say there was "more likely than not", a contract in place, he would succeed. If he sues and he cannot substantiate his claim, you would apply to the court to strike out his claim due to no prospects of success. The application would be on form N244 and it costs £255 to apply (once he issues court proceedings). Let me know if you want that form or if you want me to answer anything else.

I hope this helps - if you can please accept the answer and give me a 5 star rating (there should be a button on your screen to do this), I can answer follow up Q&A's at no extra charge and Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Would he also need to at a most basic level need to provide these supposed invoices with details and also proof of materials etc? Does it matter at all that he has not contacted me in 2 years with any indication of money owing (realise limitation act says 6 years but doesn’t it also require regular contact)?

Well the court looks at the conduct of each party before the case is issued - known as "pre action conduct". The courts encourage people to resolve matters without resorting to litigation. Evidence should be provided to you to back up the claimant's claim - they cannot just say "this is what you owe" without any sort of evidence. You would be right to refuse to pay. You are correct in that he has 6 years to bring the claim to court but he should try to resolve this without involving the court. You can raise this as a pre action issue in due course - the court will ask him why he did not make any attempts at resolving this with you.

If he does issue the claim, he would not have to provide the proof until the disclosure stage of proceedings which would be a few weeks after he issues. If he issues, you will receive a claim form and a response pack from the court - you would need to fill in the response pack to confirm either that you want to defend the whole claim, admit to part of the claim, or admit to the whole claim. If you agree that you owe something, you would tick the box on the N9 response pack form that you admit to part of the claim.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
What is the law that refers to this onus on him to prove the debt? I want to quote it in my letter

It is established in common law in the UK - if the contract was before October 2015 then the Supply of Services Act would be applicable but if after that date, you would say they have to provide there was a contract in place and prove the debt under the Consumer Rights Act 2015

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Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thank you