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SolicitorRM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3889
Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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I have a question about contract law, Just outside London,

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I have a question about contract law
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Just outside London, near Watford
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Nothing
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No

Hi thank you for your enquiry and patience. How is it I can help. I am a solicitor in England and Wales

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
We supplied goods to a company in London. Our company was a reseller and the goods were manufactured by a company in Leeds. The goods were delivered and stored by our customer for around 3 months before they were installed. The customer has confirmed that the goods were correct on installation. Soon after the installation we were contacted by the customer to say that the goods were faulty. Our supplier is not accepting responsibility. Question- is there a minimum amount of time that goods should be expected to last? The goods were illuminated panels manufactured to the customer’s specification.

Hi thank you for your further information. there is no standard minimum periods however goods should be of satisfactory quality assessed in the context of their normal use, their condition and what is expected in the particular industry. You ought to check the terms and conditions of your supply to the customer as this will normally restrict the period they can take to notify of faults. they are also a company so the usual generous protections under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 do not apply. The fact that they were made to customer specification will normally mean they could only be rejected in specified circumstances. A consumer customer is different to a commercial customer and as such you should rely on your terms and conditions and if they did not comply with them and the issue they raise is not covered you should not be intimidated to refund them.

I hope this helps and I would be grateful for your rating at your earliest convenience. All the best

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
We offer a 12 month guarantee. I have had to admit to the customer that the goods are faulty and offer him return of his money as we can't remake the goods at the moment.If my supplier doesn't want to refund the money I have paid him, can I take action against him through the small claims court? The amount I need from him is less that £10,000.He is stating that he delivered the goods in good quality and that other factors have affected the goods after installation. Does he have a point?

Hi, i will consider your additional information as soon as I am off call

Hi, it took me much longer to get back to you, my system would not log back on. The problem is with admitting liability without agreeing with the manufacturer first. You would only be able to claim from the supplier if the terms and conditions between you allow for the same. This is the problem with commercial contracts, what you agree to binds you. What they are saying could be correct and before admitting liability that is what you were meant to explore eg checking that the goods were stored correctly or installed professionally.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I did explore that. The inventor of the light system in Australia has acted as an 'independent expert' and he states that the problem was down to a manufacturing fault. The problem is that the supplier seems be disputing this but has not come up with a reason of what may have caused the problem.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
If this went to the small claims court, do you think we have a reasonable case?

if ure issue is technical then you would need a report from an expert confirming the faults were manufacture faults and if you do get such a report then yes you would have reasonable prospect of succeeding with the claim. If no independent evidence then no you would struggle to prove the case has merit

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Would the inventor of the product in Australia not count as an independent expert?

Morning, they are not independent, they have an interest in the product and any proceedings that relate to the good.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Based on what I have told you so far, do you think I have a case against the supplier in the Small Claims Court? The amount I would be claiming is under £10,000.In summary, I am claiming that the goods he has supplied are faulty.Thanks

Hi any claim that a good is faulty where the supplier rejects the claim you have the burden of proving that it is indeed faulty. You have to get an independent expert to assess and to confirm the alleged fault. this is true even for small claims track claims. so without the report you have at most 50/50 chance of success and result will depend on who the judge believes.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
It is a visual defect. Anyone can see that just by looking at it. Do we still need a report from an expert?

Yes you do. They can always argue it was damaged in the 3 months your customer was quiet and they may have images of it before despatch to prove it did not have the defect. If you really do not want to do the report then you can file the claim and a lenient judge may order a joint expert report instead of just ruling on the evidence submitted. costs for the joint report will at least be shared between you and the other party

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Our customer has admitted that the items were good when they were installed after the 3 month period. They went wrong 4-6 weeks later.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
There was nothing that the customer did or anything special in the environment that would have made them go wrong.

I am sorry but I feel we are going round in circles. The terms and conditions of your sale of the good to the customer should have guided your decision to reimburse them without securing an undertaking from supplier they would meet the cost. Does your agreement allow return of goods after 3 months where notification of a fault has not been made and the goods were confirmed to be of good quality at delivery and at installation? Your answer to that question will tell you if firstly you should have refunded and secondly your own agreement with the supplier will dictate the terms of when you can revert back to them

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
The inventor of the product who understands things in detail believes that the fault occurred due to a manufacturing fault.

The inventor is not independent, you need to find another manufacturer, not your supplier to have a look at it and to say whether they think its a manufacture issue, judging from their exeperience

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
What about the general rule that goods should be fit for purpose? Products such as these would generally be expected to last for years, not just a few months.

You are planning to commence litigation and as such you must appreciate that the opinion of those deemed to experts in the manufacture of the good is what the Court cares about. You have ac ommercial client and therefore your contract dictates a lot on what happens. If they were an individual consumer you would be relying on the fact that the first 6 months the burden is on the supplier to prove the goods werent defective, relying in the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Ok thanks

No problem, you are welcome

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