Words of warning over contracts

Signing the deal
Signing the deal

I feel it necessary to alert readers to a situation my good friends (who are in their 70s) became embroiled in and were taken to court as a consequence by a local company.

It involved the partial demolition of an existing conservatory and the erection of an orangery. There was no formal written contract. Shortly after starting the work, my friends were concerned about the poor workmanship and commissioned an expert building surveyor. His report confirmed their opinion.

The company accepted the report and was allowed back on site to rectify the faults, but subsequently the surveyor refused to pass the work. Prior to construction, my friends were asked and agreed, unwisely, to stage payments which were paid to a director (an individual) rather than the company.

The company referred the case to court on the basis that money was owed and my friends, with my support (at no charge), were obliged to defend their actions at a cost of £700 in court fees etc. The eventual outcome at their fourth court appearance was that the claim was withdrawn provided our counter claim was dropped.

Not, in my opinion, a just and reasonable settlement, although agreed to via mediation over the lunch break with the surveyor acting as mediator.

Should your readers encounter a similar scenario they would do well to consider very carefully whether or not they should withdraw and look to employ an alternative company, otherwise to continue could prove very costly both in time and health.

David Borland OBE, FRICS

Whalley Road, Barrow