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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71443
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I am having a dispute at the moment over funds paid and

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Hi, I am having a dispute at the moment over funds paid and would like to know if I have a case/if it worth pursuing legal action to recover my losses.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: I am in the UK
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have emailed them asking for either my product to be completed or for them to refund me. Their response is that they cant finish the product and that they wont refund me either
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No I dont think so

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Sure
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Hi Ben

Hi there. Please explain the situation in some more detail. Why can't the product be finished and what reason has been provided for not wanting to give you a refund?

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
I have been developing an App with a Company called Apptology. The project started 4 years ago and they have just been dragging their heels the whole time. I have remained patient in the hope they would eventually get the project completed. It has never been completed, there has been excuse after excuse.
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
I called him out on it and told him I wanted to be refunded as he hadnt fulfilled the agreement. His response was simply we cannot complete the project and they will not refund the money I have paid them to complete the project
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
I have contracts, 4 years worth of emails, WhatsApp conversations, payment transaction confirmations

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

If you are going to pursue them for the return of the funds already paid, you will need to consider a claim for compensation against them.

If a party wishes to pursue another for financial compensation arising out of a dispute between them, they can potentially do so by making a court claim. However, as legal action should only be used as a last resort, there are certain steps that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without the need to involve the courts. It is therefore recommended that the following steps are taken in order to try and resolve this:

1. Reminder letter – if no informal reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the other party to voluntarily settle this matter.

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but have been ignored, the other party must be sent a formal ‘letter before action’ asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time – 14 days is reasonable. They should be advised that if they fail to make contact to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to pursue them for compensation. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this without the need for legal action. There are numerous templates available online for such letters and a simple search will bring up a list of useful results.

3. If the letter before action is also ignored, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome. There will be a fee payable, which depends on the amount that is claimed. The other side will eventually get a copy of the claim and they will have a limited time to answer it. They could accept it and pay what is owed, they could accept it only in part and defend the rest, or they could outright reject it. They could also completely ignore it, in which case judgment will eventually be entered automatically against them. Also, it is worth noting that the simple act of submitting a claim could show the other side that this is being taken seriously and prompt them to consider negotiating a potential solution to stop the claim progressing further, such as offering full or partial payment of the amount sought in the claim.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Thank you so much for your help Ben, that does help a lot. So you reccomend to start things informally as you state? But then also you think going straight to making a claim could also be the best place to start as well?
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Having dealt with them for 4 years and particularly this one person I dont think an informal letter will take his notice and I think he will just ignore everything anyway
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
He is based abroad so I am not sure how this could be resolved in court...

Hi, if he is based abroad that will be more difficult to pursue. Where is he?

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
He is based in India and also in the USA but I think he spends most of his time in India
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
He is fully visible and active in social media platforms like Lindin so is contact able, I already have his email address and phone number

How much are you after?

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
I have paid them £5000 for the service and product, but I have spent closer to £7000 including all the subscription fees and running costs etc
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
I could let things go to an extent with some things if he had handled this in a more professional way, issue is he is so rude and unprofessional in his responses, I just want to get back what I have lost

Thank you. As I did not realise they are based abroad the court option will probably not be realistic. Whilst you can pursue a party located overseas, if they are outside of the EU it becomes relatively more complex and expensive to do so. You are likely to spend a lot more on legal fees than what you are pursuing and on that basis it may be best to avoid it and only try to resolve this directly with the other party, even if you threaten legal action without having intentions of actually going through with it

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
That was my worry and that is what I thought, and unfortunately is probably why he is so cocky and doesnt seem to care. If it is going to cost me more to get the money back I will have no choice but to leave it be. I am happy to threaten legal action as realistically it is my 1 and only shot at getting him to agree to give me anything back however I am not confident he would care ir fall for this due to his location
Customer: replied 22 days ago.
What if I threatened him with leaving negative feedback and publicly outing him for his poor customer service etc

All you can do is try and give it your best shot and remember that legal action is still available, just comes with its own risks and conditions.

Threats of poor feedback can also work, as long as you ensure that whatever you post is factually correct and accurate so there is no legal comeback

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Ok Ben, thank you I think j will try a couple of threats initially and see where I get, I am not confident but will give it a try. If I get nowhere with the threats, I think I will send the letter or file a claim to back up my threat, would you suggest this is a good route to go?

You can certainly do so, but just think about submitting the claim as you have to pay for that and if you are just doing it to send a message, be prepared to write that money off in the event nothing comes out of it

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Ok, how much is it to make the claim? Just to work out whether it is worth the risk

Depends on the total claimed?

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
if I claimed for what I paid them, £5000 say?

For a claim of £5,000 exactly it is £185. If it’s between £5,000 – £10,000, it will increase to £410

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Thank you so much for your help Ben, it has been very helpful, I will have a think over the options you have given and decide what to do. I think £185 is a worthwhile investment to try to get £5000 back so would consider that as an option. Maybe £410 is a bit much considering I think he is just going to shaft me and ignore everything anyway. To lose £185 with what I already have put in to say I have done everything possible to try and get something back is a reasonable outlay.

Yes I do agree it is not a sum that would break the bank but it is your money and ultimately you need to decide if you are prepared to risk it by taking it further.

Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Hi Ben, just a further query, I know I mentioned that he is based overseas as in my contact I speak to. Having looked up the business on the Internet, they do have a UK Address, does that make pursuing things easier? And when sending formal letters/communications should I address the contact or just the Business with an FAO to the contact! Should I also email him a copy of the letter as well?

Hi, it is not so much whether they have a UK address or not as that could just be a forwarding one. What you are really concerned is whether they have any UK assets as a UK court judgment is only good against UK-based assets.

In terms of correspondence, address it to the business with FAO to the contact

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok, thanks. As well as posting the letter, would you email an attachment as well? That way I know he has got it? And then i need to attach key documents such as the contract, payment receipts and emails?

Yes, you can certainly send an email as well as a backup. Do not worry too much about supporting evidence for now, unless requested by the other side. You may eventually have to include it in any claim disclosure process, but not yet

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok, I ask because on the letter template I found, it mentions supporting documents. I have a feeling this will all get completely ignored anyway or he will come back dismissing my request. I think I would probably then go ahead with the claim for £5000 if it will cost £185 and once I have made the claim, he has to respond to that doesnt he? Either way?

It is in no way mandatory to send documents at this stage – you can do if you think they will help in resolving this but they are not needed. Only do so if it is easy enough to send them

If a claim is made he does not have to respond, but in that case you will most likely win the case by default

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok on the documents noted!
With regards ***** ***** claim, so if he doesnt respond and I win by default will he then have to settle the full amount? Or would it then go to court?

Not quite. You only win if you make a claim and he does not respond to it. He can still not respond to the letters now but that means nothing, only that you can proceed with the claim

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok, thanks for clarifying. So if I make the claim, he doesnt respond, I win and he needs to pay me £5000? Who would chase him for this?

Well that is the issue – even if you win, he could refuse to pay and then it is up to you to find ways of chasing him for it via enforcement:

https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/enforce-a-judgment

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Of course he could still refuse... so to force a judgement, would that also be at additional cost to me? And if he does respond to the claim and just simply shuts it down and says no, what would I do there? As he would have responded...

Yes you will have to pay extra, how much depends on various factors. If he responds to the claim and defends it then it will end up in a hearing in front of a judge who decides the final outcome

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
either way once I make the claim, he has 3 options:
1. Respond and agree to pay or make me a counter offer, that way we could potentially reach an agreement to settle
2. Dont respond and then he will lose and will owe the full amount
3. Respond and refute the claim in which case it ends up in front of a Judge
Would that be a correct way to look at it?

Yes exactly

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
But whatever the outcome, if he refuses to pay or just ignores requests for payment, then I am screwed anyway

unless you manage to get some money through the various enforcement methods

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
weighing it all up and looking at my options for me to potentially force a response from him or to at least get it in front of a Judge it will cost me £185 to make the claim and not much more than that... after that point its down to whether I firstly win and then whether he makes the payment... with the court hearing, if he is in India, how would that work? Video link or would he be required to physically attend? Also would I be required to have legal representation or represent myself?

He would usually be required to attend but he can send a proxy, like someone based here to attend for him and represent him. You do not need formal representation, you can do it all yourself at no extra cost

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok, I just think it should be pretty straight forward... also surely the fact he has been so far, so unwilling to even acknowledge me must go against him from a customer service perspective
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Also another query, if I am pursuing him for this and clearly my threat of legal action is serious. Should I still try to reach out to him to persuade him to try to settle with me? Or just keep it strictly formal from now on?

You can always reach out informally behind the scenes so to speak. Just label any correspondence ‘without prejudice’

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok, so if I message him on whatsapp or if I email him, before starting the conversation i need to state 'without prejudice'?
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Or would you stick just to email?

stick to email

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok I thought so. I have given him 1 week, ending Sunday to come back to me to agree to pay the amount or counter propose. If I dont hear back by then which I doubt I will I will then send the Letter for Action on Monday next week. He will then have 2 weeks to respond to that. If he doesnt or still refuses to settle, I will then make 1 further attempt to settle with him via email (quoting 'without prejudice'), with the threat of making the formal claim. If still nothing then I will make the formal claim and then he will have no choice but to either respond, pay up or go to court. Does that sound fair?

Yes all good as far as I can see

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Thank you so much for all of your advice Ben, you have been extremely helpful.

Most welcome