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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I have an ongoing dispute over a verbal telecoms contract!

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I have an ongoing dispute over a verbal telecoms contract! When the contract was setup there was a charge for a service we didn't require. This was acknowledged by both parties but it was put onto our account. It wasn't until well into the contract that we notice the charges! The company have acknowledged that these charges were taken in error and offered a refund. It has since transpired that both ourselves and the other party have taken our case to CISAS who have given a judgement that is unacceptable. I would like to talk to someone to assertain what my rights are.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: I live in Cambridge
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: We have taken the case to CISAS and telecoms adjudication service.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: The company are claiming that although they added the service to the contract they have not breached the verbal contract.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer. I will be the lawyer working with you today.
Sorry to hear of the issue. I will set out my written answer shortly.

Your rights would depend if you are a consumer or if this is a business-to-business contract. For the former, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies meaning the telecoms provider has to carry out their service with reasonable care and skill - and the service needs to be as described which includes the prices. If you are a business then it comes down to breach of contract - you can sue them for your losses either way.
You mention you have gone to CISAS and the adjudication service - you need to wait for the outcome of the latter because the adjudication scheme is a) quicker than court action and b) legally binding.
If they do not find in your favour you have the option to sue for your losses - you have up to 6 years from the date they breached the contract to issue a claim. Whether you win depends on the evidence and verbal contracts are not ideal - it would come down to your word against theirs and whose evidence the judge prefers.
A small claim (a claim with a value under £10K) is easy though - you would not need a lawyer.

If the arbitrator does not agree with you then you could consider court action. If you do, I would recommend that you send the telecoms company a formal letter before claim to demand payment within 14 days and say that if they do not pay you, you will issue county court proceedings against them. See attached template as an example of what to say. Please let me know if you cannot see the letter which I have uploaded. You will need to tailor this letter to your situation. The pre action protocol confirms you should send the letter to give the other party a chance to avoid court action and to pay you. The courts encourage compliance with the protocol as it can result in a resolution without having to involve the court.

You may also want to threaten a report to Trading Standards (who can be contacted via this site: https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/contact/).

You will need to register at https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome so that you are ready to issue the claim in the event they dispute the claim and do not pay you. The website is very user-friendly and you would not need a lawyer to use the money claim site.

Claims with a value of under £10,000 are classed as a "small claim", so legal costs are generally not recoverable and the matter may be dealt with on paper by a Judge, not at a hearing. This means the parties are on an equal footing, so you don’t need to worry about legal costs if you lost.

A hearing may be necessary if the court thinks that oral evidence is required to dispose of the case.
Here is a user guide for the money claim online site: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/986795/ex50-eng.pdf

The court will then issue the claim and they will send you "notice of issue". The papers are served on the defendant who then has 14 days to acknowledge the claim - they do this by filling out an acknowledgment of service and they post it to the court. They indicate their intention when they do this, i.e. whether they admit the claim in full or partly, or if they deny the claim. If they want to defend the claim then their defence is due by 28 days from the date the court served them with the papers. The central court processing centre then sends the claim to the defendant's home county court for case management and directions - the directions will give a list of dates which you both must comply with.

If there is no settlement then the claim will be dealt with at a final hearing which takes anything from 9 to 12 months from when you start the claim - longer if the claim is higher value. You can pursue the claim yourself or use a law firm. For the hearing you can use an advocate if you wish, though it's not compulsory. I have details of law firms and advocacy agencies if you would like those. Though in a small claim you won't be able to recover their charges from your opponent. A small claims hearing is easy to do, it's quite informal and no lawyer is required.

You would claim the sum for the loss, the court issue fee (details of the money claim fees are listed here at page 5:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/904862/ex50-eng.pdf) and court interest which is 8% calculated on a daily rate from the date of loss to date of court judgment.

The site allows you to calculate the interest and add it to the claim. If a hearing is required then there is a fee for this too - see page 7 of the previous link for details. Again, that fee is recoverable if you win.

If you are on a low income or have low savings (or in receipt of benefits), you can ask the court for a fee remission so you do not have to pay the court issue fee.

The online site for applying for the fee exemption is here: https://www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees

If you win then once you have the CCJ from the court the defendant has 14 days to pay in full. If they do not then it gets registered with the credit agencies after 30 days. You can also enforce the CCJ with the county court bailiffs or transfer the debt to the High Court for a small additional fee assuming the total amount owed is at least £600 and you can use the high court enforcement officers who have greater powers than county court bailiffs. The transfer fee is added on to the debt and payable by the defendant.

There are other enforcement methods which I can help with, including bank account freeze, charging order on their property (and then apply to force a sale), application to wind up the company if £750 or more is owed (if suing a limited company), apply to summons them to court for questioning, all of which can ensure you are actually repaid the money.

You may find they just pay you after receiving the letter before action – hopefully they will want to avoid litigation.

(insert their name and address) (insert date)

LETTER BEFORE ACTION

Dear Sirs,

Re: Claim for (insert sum)

I refer to the above matter. (Insert details of the dispute).

This letter is being sent to you in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol (“the Protocol”) contained within the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”). In particular, I refer you to paragraphs 13 to 16 of the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols regarding the Court’s powers to impose sanctions for failing to comply with the provisions of the Protocol.

I therefore put you on notice of my intention to issue county court proceedings against your company for my losses should I not receive payment in full by 4 pm on (insert date 14 calendar days).

Should court proceedings be necessary I will claim the court issue fee and statutory interest. Should I succeed in obtaining a judgment, same will be transferred to the High Court for enforcement against you whereby further costs will be added to the judgment sum.

I trust the above will not be necessary and I therefore look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely,

(insert name)

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Hi Jim
Thank you for your prompt reply! My case has returned from the adjudicator and has been successful in part. The claim from the company is for £799.13 early termination fees! The adjudicator has directed the company to pay £225.96 and told the company to issue a full apology.

Thanks, ***** *****'t your true loss so you could reject the decision and go on to issue a small claim - I see no problem in that.
Sorry, I can’t take a call at the moment but other experts are free to contact you. If no one calls you then you will not be charged for it - an "authorisation" has been made for payment, that's all. However, the call request is open to all experts so will remain available until it’s either taken by another expert or if you cancel it. If you would like to cancel the call and the charge, customer services can be contacted either by email (*****@******.***) or here: https://www.justanswer.co.uk/help/contact-us

JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 14785
Experience: Senior Associate Solicitor
JimLawyer and 5 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Hi Jim
In answer to the judgement from CISAS, this has now been given. The CISAS decision is as follows:1. This claim succeeds in part.
2. I direct the company to credit the customer's account in the total sum of £225.96 unless it has already done so, and to provide the customer with an apology.
I await your reply but can I assume that the company have either been negligent or have given a service below their standards and conditions and is that grounds to leave their service? Secondly, I have a copy of the general conditions of entitlement from Ofcom and on page 23 C1.4 C1.4 Regulated Providers shall not include a term in any contract with a Consumer for the
provision of Electronic Communications Services that stipulates a Fixed Commitment
Period of more than 24 months in duration.
C1.5 Regulated Providers shall ensure that Subscribers are able to subscribe to a contract with a
maximum duration of 12 months.
C1.6 Regulated Providers shall:
(a) give their Subscribers adequate notice not shorter than one month of any contractual
modifications likely to be of material detriment to that Subscriber;
(b) allow their Subscribers to withdraw from their contract without penalty upon such
notice; and
(c) at the same time as giving the notice in Condition C1.6(a), inform the Subscriber of its
ability to terminate the contract without penalty if the proposed modification is not
acceptable to the Subscriber.
C1.7 Without limiting the extent of Condition C1.6, an increase in the Core Subscription Price
payable at any point in the Fixed Commitment Period is a contractual modification likely to
be of material detriment to a Consumer or Small Business Customer for the purposes of
Condition C1.6(a) unless it falls within Condition C1.9.
C1.8 For the purposes of Condition C1.7, an increase in the Core Subscription Price includes:
(a) any modification of any contractual term or condition providing for the Subscriber to
pay the Regulated Provider which results in an increase to the Core Subscription Price;
(b) the exercise at the discretion of the Regulated Provider of any contractual term or
condition which would have the effect of increasing the Core Subscription Price;
(c) any reduction in the extent of the services the Regulated Provider is bound to provide
in return for the Core Subscription Price; and/or
(d) any failure by a Regulated Provider to pass on to the Subscriber an amount equal to
any reduction in the rate of Value Added Tax or any other directly and specifically
applicable taxation charge or regulatory levy imposed by mandatory provisions laid
down by Government or regulatory authorities, payment of which is compulsory.
C1.9 The application of contract terms with the following effects does not fall within ConditionDoes this mean that the 5-year verbal contract they hold on us is not compliant with Ofcom regulations? Chess ICT are a regulated company.I await your answer!YoursJoseph Nunes

Thanks, ***** ***** am not familiar with Ofcom regulations and can't add to what I have said previously - the site rules are that I have to opt out to let someone else assist you further with this.

Hello,
It seems the professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question. I've been working hard to find continuing a new professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're OK with to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Nicola