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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 75142
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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We own a small business doing landscape work. We started a

Customer Question

Hi, we own a small business doing landscape work. We started a big landscaping job for an elderly client. She paid a deposit of £3,000 for materials. This included us purchasing the artificial grass upfront, as well as other materials etc. We carried out the work, and were due to go back to complete bits and pieces for the client, following the bank holiday. On the Saturday, we had discussed the work still to be completed, but omitted that we understood there was a problem with the adhesiveness of the grass. On the bank holiday, she rang and said she had been advised that there were too many problems with the job and she had been advised not to pay anything further, and did not want us back on site. At this stage, the agreed amount of £2,500 for the remainder of the job was outstanding.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: From our understanding, there does not appear to be anything fundamentally wrong with the job, or anything that couldn't be put right on the last day of the job, when we were due to return. Please advise what our rights are, in terms of collecting in this money? We are based in Engladn
JA: The Expert's answer will cost $10 to $100, depending on the issue type and time to respond. You'll see the exact amount on the next page and can decide then. It's way less expensive and more convenient than any face-to-face visit. What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: We have asked for details of why she doesn't want us to return to the job - she stated grass was not glued down, and weed membrane not in place (both issues taht were easily rectifiable on our return). She refused to give us any further details. We have written to her stating that we are still owed for the work completed and would happily rectify the issues, at no additional cost (meaning the agreed £2.5k would be due), or we would accept a lower amount of £1,500 in full and final settlement, as a show of goodwill. Alternatively, we would be required to collect the materials supplied, including the grass, to recoup our costs
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No, I don't believe so
Submitted: 18 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

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 18 days ago.
Hi Ben, thanks
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

Has the customer provided you with details of the issues she has with the work?

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
The only details she has given me are that she was able to lift the grass and that there was no weed membrane. When I asked if she could please provide me with more details, as both those issues are easily rectified, she just responded to say 'lawn not laid right, don't ring again'
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 18 days ago.

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.

When a consumer enters into a contract for services, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that such services must be:

- Carried out with reasonable care and skill (to the same standard as any reasonably competent person in that trade or profession)

In the event of substandard work, the trader should either redo the parts of the work which are inadequate or perform the whole service again at no extra cost to the customer. This must be done within a reasonable time and without causing significant inconvenience. If this is not possible, the consumer can claim a price reduction, based on the severity of the issues. That is something which should be negotiated between the two parties. However, if the trader refuses to resolve the issues, the consumer can consider getting someone else to do this and either deduct these costs from the balance that is still owed to the original trader, or pursue them for any extra costs that have been incurred as a result.

So if the customer has unreasonably refused to give you an opportunity to rectify any issues, you can argue that you should still be paid what you are due and that she cannot just refuse to pay you. Make it clear that if she continues to act unreasonably and refuses to allow you to return and rectify any issues, you will either ask her to allow you to collect any materials or you would have to pursue her legally for compensation for any money owed.

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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

Hello, following my main response above, I just wanted to check that everything was clear. If you have any further queries about this issue, you can reply to me at any time on this portal and I will be happy to help. Thank you.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Thanks Ben, yes that really helps. We have sent a letter outlining some options for her, which would be a reminder letter, I guess. I have phoned to ask how she wants to proceed as I hadn't heard anything and she doesn't want to do anything. Have asked for a response in writing. If we still hear nothing I will follow up with a letter of action and go from there. Hopefully that will get it resolved, although we are already facing a backlash on upcoming work, as neighbours of the client have now cancelled booked in work
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

Sorry to hear that but that is sometimes inevitable if you have a dispute with a person who has recommended others to you and they make a decision to cancel as a result. Hopefully, the repercussions won’t be too great and you can fill in with other work.