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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 78593
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I've received a letter basically threatening us with court

Customer Question

I've received a letter basically threatening us with court action if we don't pay the full invoice they've sent us for building works. We dismissed the builders on the grounds of not turning up on the job, changing completion date. They are claiming payment for 50% of the job and our dispute is they have not completed 50% of the job. We have offered them what we think is a fair payment, which we have had no reply, only the letter from a debt agency. How do we proceed?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: The builder concerned only gives us abuse.
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: We're near Blackpool in England. We only received the letter yesterday when we arrived home, but it was dated 26th.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I don't think so.
Submitted: 7 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.
Hello, I’m Ben, a solicitor, and it’s my pleasure to assist you. I may ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

I understand a builder is chasing you for 50% of a job you employed him to do, via a debt collection agency. Did the builder provide you with any reason for the delay in completing the work at the time?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
He never turned up on 3 or 4 different occasions. Then he announced that he could not complete our job for 3 weeks. We felt we could not wait that long.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

OK and what reason did he provide for this?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Because of staff and problems on other jobs.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

OK so when did the job begin and when should it have been completed, according to the agreement you had with the builder?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
They should have started on 20th June. But they put it back by a week, so started on 27th. Depending on weather he said the job would take 2 weeks max.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

OK I understand and thank you for providing the information requested. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now. I will get back to you with my full reply on here; usually the same day and the system will notify you when this happens.

I should also make you aware that this is not always an instant service, due to various legal engagements I could have and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I will be dealing with your query and will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
OK, thank you.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, it is appreciated. I am now pleased to be able to provide further assistance with your query. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues brought up by this. It must be a frustrating situation to be going through.

As you are the party that allegedly owes the money, it is your decision whether you pay anything and if you do not, the ball is entirely in the other side’s court.

Whilst a party can make demands for payment, instruct debt collectors or threaten legal action, it is important to note that they can only really force someone to pay if they actually go to court, submit a claim and are successful with it.

There is, however, no guarantee that they will actually ever go that far. Many people issue threats and demands, without ever having the intention of taking the matter to Court. This is done in the hope that the scare the other party into complying with their demands to avoid the risk of being taken to Court. However, until a formal notification of a Court claim has been issued, there is never a guarantee that a claim will actually be made and it could always remain just a threat, rather than reality.

Even if a claim was made, due to the value of compensation sought, this matter would be assigned to the Small Claims Court. This is a relatively low-risk option because it is specifically aimed at the smaller, legally unrepresented parties. The costs of claiming are not that high, there is no need to have a lawyer and incur further costs as a result and even if a party loses the claim, they will not be liable to pay the other side’s legal fees. All they would have to pay is the court fees, which at most will be several hundred pounds and whatever the Court has decided should be paid to the claimant as a result of their original claim.

Also, once judgment has been issued, on the assumption you lose, the judgment is entered on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, where it will remain for 6 years. This is what is known as ‘having a CCJ’ and can impact your credit rating. However, if payment of the judgment is made within one month, the record will be removed from the Register and will no longer be visible. If payment is made after one month has passed, it will still remain on the Register for the 6 years, but will be marked as ‘satisfied’.

To conclude, it is possible to wait and see how far the other side is willing to take this before deciding on how to respond and even if a claim is made, it is possible to proceed and defend the claim in the knowledge that the financial risks of doing so will not be astronomically high and if any judgment made against you is paid within a month, there will be no further repercussions.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

I trust that everything has now been dealt with to your satisfaction and your original question has been resolved. If you have any further queries about it, please do not hesitate to get back to me on here. In the meantime, I wish you all the best.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
At the moment, yes, thank you. We will come back to you tomorrow.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 7 days ago.

My pleasure