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Builder Dispute now Court Claim Received, Advice Needed


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Hello all, what a great forum I have been reading through the subjects for hours but cant seem to find answers to my specific situation.

Also I do hope this is in the right section.

 

The basics :

Building works quoted at £8k, Deposit paid £3k, I have refused to pay outstanding amount as work completed is not fit for purpose.Builder now completed online court claim of outstanding balance £5k.

 

I have reports that state work needs to be demolished and rebuild and will cost £7.5k

 

I have been advised by Citizens Advice to counter claim this amount.

 

First question, and no doubt there will be many more to come, the Defence Form received from the court. Should I be writing a very detailed defence here and enclosing all evidence (photos, documents etc) to be returned asap or should this only have enough detail to explain the reason for disputing the claim and wait for further questions from the court to add the full detail?

 

Hope this makes sense, all this legal wording is giving me a headache.

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Hello and welcome to CAG.

 

I'll move your thread to the General legal forum and leave you a short term redirect to follow from here to the new forum. The guys should be along over the course of the day with advice for you.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Be mindful that if you are being sued for 5k and counter-claiming for 7.5k then the value of the claim could be outside the 10k limit on small claims. This puts each party at risk of having to pay each other's legal costs if you lose. Fast track claims are best handled by solicitor as there are stricter rules on evidence disclosure and the court won't be so lenient with unrepresented litigants as they would be in small claims.

 

Do you have legal protection on any home insurance or similar?

 

Your defence should address every point made and any denial of any allegation should be given as a reason why. The real detail tends to come in a posted witness statement as online defences are space limited and don't have a facility to attach electronic photos.

 

A glitch on MCOL defence page means characters such as a £ won't allow it to be sent. You need to say GBP instead!

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Thanks, I see I have already messed up as the actual actual claim for the work by the builder is just over £5k (thought I could keep it simple by rounding out the figures but this is obviously too simplistic). So the dispute is already over the standard Small Claims route?

Forgive my ignorance but you are saying that my counterclaim would not be seen as a totally separate sum, ie £7.5k, but will be added to the original claim of £5.1k so taking it over the 10k limit? and no longer 'small claims'

I knew this was going to get complicated.

I shall check my home insurance as suggested but think I may be out of luck this time.

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I'm saying it is a possibility. If the builder gets legal representation and you don't have any then they will press for fast track as a costs order will impact far more on you than them.

 

You should request it be on small claims track at the point you complete the Directions Questionnaire. Your rationale being that only the claim or counterclaim can succeed (not both) and therefore whoever wins, the award has to be under 10k.

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Thanks. I have been thinking about the counter claim tonigjt and have an idea.

I have paid a large deposit, there is a section of the work that is complete which I can accept is of a reasonable standard the cost of this work is within £500 of the deposit (in their favour) I am disputing the entire amount outstanding, this sum relates to two areas that will need to be demolished. Should my counter claim actually just be for cost of demolition and removal of demolition materials? I realise now this is a bit of an odd case, not even started on the questions regarding defence etc.

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http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol/prot_ced

 

This is not straightforward and you may need to see a solicitor in the absence of home insurance (or similar) legal assistance. You may need to also consider rebuilding costs if they are to be greater than the price quoted by the builder. Also, unjustified manipulation of the figures to avoid allocation to a specific track may well incur the wrath of the judge.

 

So too might any significant departures by either side of the pre-action protocol for building disputes. The link is above and note the protocol's requirement to have a meeting before litigation is commenced.

 

It simply may not be appropriate to "fly solo" on this one and although expensive I would suggest you at least allow a suitable lawyer to assess the case and paperwork before submitting a defence and counterclaim. Ensure you don't miss the defence deadline though. Give yourself extra time by acknowledging service.

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It appears we may have legal cover on our insurance, whether it covers this particular problem I am yet to find out.

Thanks for the advice Rex.

Still very much interested to hear what others have to add to this topic.

Edited by Dave Support Worker
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So the helpline seem to think we are covered and a solicitor will be in touch soon, they have given advice regarding acknowledgment of claim and stating defending in full. Also counterclaiming the full amount to remove and rebuild the areas in dispute.

Will update as soon as I know more.

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Bear in mind that if the rebuild will cost 7.5k you can only expect to be awarded 2.5k. You have only lost out on 2.5k since you have not paid the remaining 5k of the price.

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About allocation, practice direction 26 of the cpr states - "7.7 Where the case involves more than one money claim (for example where there is a Part 20 claim or there is more than one claimant each making separate claims) the court will not generally aggregate the claims. Instead it will generally regard the largest of them as determining the financial value of the claims."

 

Of course this is at the court's discretion however it's more than likely that they will keep the claim in the small claims track. You'll see when you receive the next directions after filing your Defence & Counterclaim

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  • 2 weeks later...

Right, looks like they are going to play up and not allow my claim on the insurance.

 

Any advice regarding the N9B gladly accepted.

 

Need to know what to write in the Defence, am told not too much detail just deny the claim and outline why?

Next re counter claim, there is a section that says 'my claim is for' , not sure what to put here.

And then reason for counter claim, would this be a full detail of works to repair original work or similar?

 

Clock is ticking now, less than 2 weeks before my 28 days are up, blinkin insurance companies. Getting stressed!

 

Many thanks

Edited by Dave Support Worker
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About allocation, practice direction 26 of the cpr states - "7.7 Where the case involves more than one money claim (for example where there is a Part 20 claim or there is more than one claimant each making separate claims) the court will not generally aggregate the claims. Instead it will generally regard the largest of them as determining the financial value of the claims."

 

Of course this is at the court's discretion however it's more than likely that they will keep the claim in the small claims track. You'll see when you receive the next directions after filing your Defence & Counterclaim

 

Yes..Thats what I was thinking, the amount should still be under 10K and therefore still on small track, in any case, you can argue that it stys on small track at allocation stage.

 

The outcome could be:-

 

OP loses claim and counterclaim, he owes 5k.

 

OP wins case and counterclaim, he gets 7.5k

 

OP loses claim and wins counterclaim, he gets 2.5k

 

OP wins claim but loses counterclaim, he get £0.

 

A lot of this may well depend on expert evidence, a single or perhapos two experts could be appointed to put forward their views.

 

Due to the high amounts involved, its worth exploring all avenues of mediation, offers, P36, etc

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Right, looks like they are going to play up and not allow my claim on the insurance.

 

Any advice regarding the N9B gladly accepted.

 

1. Need to know what to write in the Defence, am told not too much detail just deny the claim and outline why?

 

2. Next re counter claim, there is a section that says 'my claim is for' , not sure what to put here.

 

3. And then reason for counter claim, would this be a full detail of works to repair original work or similar?

 

Clock is ticking now, less than 2 weeks before my 28 days are up, blinkin insurance companies. Getting stressed!

 

Many thanks

 

1. Well. This maybe contractual, there will be a contract that says he does work and you pay 5K, this is in black and white, does contract say anything about payment on completion or anything about satisfaction ?

 

Your argument would be something along the lines of building works are not what you agreed and therefore the money is not owing, you need to spell out all the points and arguments in your initial defence (it is hard to add stuff later) but all the in depth info,m evidence, photos, witnesses, etc can come later.

 

2. Counterclaim is for the actual loss, if you have a reliable quote that says whole lot needs to come down and will cost 7.5k to be rebuilt then that is counterclaim, would be wise to get 2 or 3 quotes/experts.

 

3. Well...this is surely coz youve been told it all needs to come down and be rebuilt, we dont know any more than your first post where you said "I have reports that state work needs to be demolished and rebuild and will cost £7.5k"

 

As mentioned it is important to make sure it stays on small track, I believe it should and court shouldnt go 5k+7.5k = 12.5k and that they should treat it as under 10k.

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thanks

 

1. I believe it says on completion, at work at the moment but pretty sure thats it, no contract as such just a quotation and deposit receipt/acceptance form that states that.

 

2. I have a quote which is 7.5, and one that is less too though, it isnt easy getting people to quote to fix others work.

 

3. So this is what the bit on the form that says 'my claim is for (specify nature of claim)'?, sorry head fog today. its only a small box on the form, can I assume its just something like, works to repair incorrectly installed xxx

 

Thanks for the heads up re small track.

Edited by Dave Support Worker
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Just checked says nothing about payment on completion or reference to satisfaction etc.

 

Actual wording on acceptance

 

I/We hereby accept your quotation for the works in the sum of xxx

(including VAT) and as detailed in your written quotation dated, and would like you to

proceed with the work.

 

Nothing on the quotation (the only other document received from the contractor) about payment, satisfaction, just a detail of work to be done and price.

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Not really my area of expertise I'm afraid.

 

I would of thought that your main defence would be that the works were not completely satisfactory, clearly you could ask someone to build you a house but if it was all wonky or dangerous than there would no doubt be an implied term that the works have to be that of a reasonable standard for you to be able to live in the house.

 

So he says you owe £5k, £5K would be the full price for perfectly finisahed wlorks, now if there were only slight defects then perhaps it could be argued that you owe only £4k, or if the works are completely unsatisafactory then you could argue you owe nothing.

 

Now it would appear that you are going to argue not only should you pay nothing more but the works are so bad that the whole needs to come down and be rebuilt at a cost of £7.5K.

 

In a case like this the Judge wil know nothing, and will rely on the vidence in front of him/her, you can show photos if the defects are obvious but I suspect an expert will be needed, the court may like it if one single expert is decided upon.

 

Sorry not much help, you may like to find a solicitor at least for an inititial consultation, if you were to use a solicitor fully the cost maybe pricey (in this instance you may wish it to be on fast track, to recoup the costs but the risks are higher).

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