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How to defend myself against a claim


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Background. My Mum was being cared for by a local authority using contracted out care. The copany did not always turn up on time, stay the required time, or even turn up at all on many occasions. To compund the problem they falsified records to suggest they had.

I complained but nothing was done to resolve the problems.

I stopped paying the care bills to make them take notice. They didn't notice until I pointed it out.

Mum passed away and I was the executor of her estate.

Mum's bills consist of many elements of care, only one part (the subcontract part) which I have an issue with. I want to pay the rest and discuss/negotiate the bad element. The local auithority refuse to separate out the bills saying I owe all the bill. I have offered several times to pay the parts and discuss the rest.

I'm being taken to court, the Chancery Division no less, for the whole bill, ~£5k.

I have applied to defend the claim and have now got papers suggesting that it wil be fast-tracked.

I'm not sure what my next step should be, any help gratefully received.

Thanks

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I'm mystified why their solicitors issued the claim in the High Court in London. Its been awhile since I've had to look at the detailed rules surrounding this stuff but generally speaking a case has to be worth at least 50k to be heard in High Court.

 

 

Is there some other aspect to this, e.g. a mortgage or property dispute?

 

Was there a contract between your mum and the local authority? If so what does it say?

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Mum's bills consist of many elements of care, only one part (the subcontract

part) which I have an issue with

Is the claim against you personally? The claim should be against your mother's estate. Yes you need to deal with them as executor but you cannot be held personally liable.

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The claim is against me personally as I was the executor of Mum's estate. Mum's estate consisted almost entirely of her property which was sold and then the value dispersed according to her will.

Mum did not have a 'contract' as such with the local authority (LA). They were providing assorted care services for her. Mum was regularly in and out of hospital. For a while her care was provided by the LA personnel directly. But when she had a stay in the hospital once of over 2 weeks this effectively cancelled this care package and so a new one was set up when she came out of hospital. This was provided this time by a subcontract company to the LA. This is when the problems started. Mum's care package consisted of a number of elements. 1. Home Care, ie a care visitor turning up for a specified amount of time to do specific duties. 2. Family based care, a visitor turning up once a week for a chat. 3. Telecare. A system that had a smoke alarm and a pendant button linked to the telephone for emergency use. 4. Respite care. Residential care stays when Mum had been in hospital or similar. The ONLY part of the care package that was a problem was the Home Care. The team were late, lazy, short time visits, no visits at all. They falsified records to suggest they had visited according to the schedule. Because of the repeated problems and the lack of interest in resolving them by the LA I stopped paying the bills. I had control of Mum's finances via a Power of Attorney document. The LA did not notice until I, out of frustration, pointed it out to them, approx. 8 months after stopping. It took another 6 months to get a meeting together to discuss this. At this point the LA just 'ran away' and stopped providing home care. they then delegated a budget of £0 to me to find my own. I did and it ran successfully until Mum's eventual death.

The claim is for the whole amount of the cost due to ALL the elements of the care. I have offered to pay ALL of the parts that are not disputed and then discuss or arbitrate over the remainder. The LA have refused saying they cannot split the bill down. Its all or nothing. Therefore I have not paid.

They also say that the whole bill is due anyway as Mum would only have been paying a 'contribution' to her care costs and not the whole amount. My point is that she didn't get the whole care package due to poor service from the subcontract care team so why should she pay the total bill. The service promised was not delivered.

When Mum passed away I applied for probate so I could sort out the estate. The LA placed a Caveat against the estate which prevented the probate grant. I applied for a Warning against that and the LA withdrew their caveat before it got to probate court.

I have repeatedly asked for a bill breakdown so I can pay the parts of the bill which are not disputed.

The LA have repeatedly refused saying its a whole bill.

The amount was initially over £7,000 but is now a little over £5,000 as one part was separated out and has now been paid.

I do not understand the legal process enough to understand why I've been put through the High Court route and not the small claims etc.

It is via the 'Chancery Division' of the High Court of Justice in Chester. The LA is Cheshire West & Chester.

I live down in Staffordshire.

I have submitted a defence stating that I dispute the amount, not that I dispute the whole claim. I have also stated that I wish to pay the undisputed elements but am being prevented from doing so.

I have asked for arbitration and a discussion in the form of a pre-action protocol from the LA but they have refused. They recon a Pre Action Protocol is not appropriate.

The court has written back to me following my defence submission suggesting the fast track. But as I say, this is all foreign to me.

Any quality advice and help accepted please.

Happy to answer more questions if needed.

Sorry this is a bit wordy!

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How much is the amount of the claim then? If less than 10k you need to be pushing for small claims track. This would be much better for you than fast track, as it greatly reduces the risk of having to pay the LA's legal costs.

 

I am a bit mystified as to the legal basis for all of this. You say there was no contract, but surely there must have been some sort of documentation in place in relation to the home care arrangements. These kind of three party arrangements, where the LA contracts a sub-contractor to provide services to you, but the contractor fails in its duty, can be a bit complicated and difficult to advise on without being able to sit down and read through all of the documents.

 

Can you post up the Particulars of Claim, word-for-word if you are comfortable doing this on a public forum? Or at least give a clear summary of the POC?

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