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Cowboy builder, a £70k counterclaim,set aside SD and repeated harrassment from DCA


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Hi all!

 

I have been reading through alot of threads to gain info.

 

We have a problem with a builder, who was supposed to do approx £27k of work on our house.

I will keep details sketchy as I don't want to identify ourselves.

 

he was a cowboy,

didn't do the work as he was contracted to do

(we had no written contract, but the Surveyor had specified what needed to be done

and how and the quote referred to "all works as detailed in the surveyor;s report).

 

To cut a long story short,

he has had two attempts to fix the roof, and has only made it worse both times, and it is now falling apart instead of renovated.

We will have to completely re roof it now as its not viable to try to fix it anymore.

There are other jobs that were done and also all wrong for varying reasons.

 

We had taken legal advice, had the original surveyor in twice to assess the property and works and draw up a scotts schedule.

The work he has done was considered as £0 value due to not being what was supposed to be done and shoddy work.

 

The damages to our property soar at over £60,000, certified by both the FRICS surveyor and conservation.

Including legal expenses and other fees the claim against him will be over £70,000.

 

He has chased us with 3 debt collection companies so far,

one whom sent out a Liverpool gangster to deliver a Statuatory demand against us to try to bankrupt us.

I have proof of who he was, as for some reason when I explained what the builder had done to our house,

he claimed to be a "surveyor" and told me he could survey the damages for us, and wrote his number and name down.

When i googled him and found his image and name I found out who he really is.

 

-none of the debt collectors have been told by him its a disputed debt.

-The first debt agreed to wait until a certain date to get the scotts schedule and evidence,

but before that date came around, the next was pursuing us vigorously.

 

-The second debt collector refused to contact our solicitor despite being told to only converse via him

and repeatedly texted us and phoned us saying they were going to bankrupt us.

 

-Our solicitor tried to call them but his calls went unreturned and he had to email them to ask them to desist harrassing us and only converse via him.

 

-Then they sent letters threatening SD against us, and when contacted AGAIN by our solicitor for continuing to ignore the direction to speak via our legal advisor,

claimed they never received his "letter", (even though it was an email!)

 

-We forced them to set aside the Statutory demand, by furnishing the evidence and he was dropped like a hot potato by the bulldog debt collectors

 

 

and that was the last that we heard from anyone for approx 8 months, until we got a letter a few days ago, from yet another.

 

-I have recording software on my phone so made sure i used it when I called this debt collection company.

We haven't got the solicitor involved again as yet, as we don't want to part with yet another £500 to get rid of these guys.

 

I had a list of qurestions which i calmly repeated:

"has your client told you this is a disputed debt?

-has your client told you that you are the third debt collector he has gotten on to us?

-has he told you he issued a statutory demand against us which they had to set aside when the evidence was furnished

-has he told you we have proof of a £70,000 AGAINST HIM?

etc...

 

She said she didn't have a record that he had told them it was a disputed debt but would get the case manager to call us back, which hasn't happened yet.

 

-Also I'll mention the claim of monies owed started at around £15,000, and each time the amount has changed

and risen and now he's claiming theres over £25,000 outstanding, which is absolute balshovic!

 

He's just making up amounts and doesn't actually KNOW what the actual amount would have been had he done a satisfactory job.

 

Our solicitor said should we take this to court we must be aware it will cost us at least :

-£2500 filing fee with court

 

-£10 - 15,000 of solicitor, barrister and court costs in the year it will take to get to court, and thats before the case is heard.

 

The evidence is overwhelming and I feel we would blow him out of the water should we try the case,

but our solicitor is concerned that we will get a win, but get no funds out of him as he doesn't really have company assets the tracing agent could identify,

and the company has a £150,000 debt against it.

 

 

..The only upside is, he said the banks wouldn't let a builder run up such huge amounts of debt unless they had it secured against something

, and we know he has a property worth at least £600,000 in his personal name, so should he not pay,

we could seek a winding up order of his company, which couldn't happen until he repaid the banks

, and if he didn't have the cash to pay the debt, they would force him to sell his home,

so he most likely would then be forced to pay us to avoid losing his home.

 

So we are not sure whether its worth losing yet more money trying to take him to court,

but until we take him to court, how do you stop him constantly harrassing us with debt collector after debt collector?

 

I feel he is just trying to be a nuisance and waste our money on solicitor fees endlessly as he knows he has no hope of getting any more money out of us.

 

I called citizens advice bureau, but they said there is nothing they can do as its not a small claims case.

 

Each time he does this, we have to answer to the debt collectors and waste more money-surely there is some way he can be stopped from doing this?

 

He is purposely misleading debt collectors in order to get them to take his case by not disclosing the facts.

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you don't have to pay anyone to answer the debt collectors..waste of money!

 

 

a debt collector is NOT A BAILIFF

and has

NO SUCH LEGAL POWERS.

you can safely ignore them.

 

 

if they turn up at your door

 

 

call the police

end of.

 

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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The problem is- if you ignore their first letters and don't submit evidence of a dispute, then they start the whole "statutory demand" business, and send a letter advising they'll do that, and then you have to go thru the whole "setting it aside " thing again!

 

I called the debt collecting firm back, as they didn't call me back from this morning and got onto the guy I was supposed to talk to.

I recorded the whole conversation on my phone.

We have listened to it back a few times and fallen about laughing!

I made sure I stayed completely calm and polite-

I explained the situation, I told him I could send him through the evidence, so he too could stop wasting his time, He gave me his email address and said to send it through, at which point he said he would "assess it, and decide the next best action for his client to take, keeping his evidence in mind".

I said the build has "no evidence" but his invoices he issued, to which the debt collector said "that's hearsay..!"

I calmly said, no, that's not hearsay.

I said as they are a debt collection agency, and debt collection agencies by law are not allowed to chase disputed debts, then they will need to drop it once they got the evidence.

Then he went on to claim "We are a litigation agency!- I am more than qualified to see my client through court to the end of the litigation process"

So I said "Oh, so you're a solicitor are you?"

He said "I know more about the construction industry than your solicitor does"- I said "ofcourse you do!"

So I said, so ARE you a solictor or not?- you seemed to imply that you WERE a solicitor?"and he said " i am a legal executive officer" or some crap, so I said "so you're NOT a solicitor then? You were alluding to the fact you were?"

 

At which point he lost it and started shouting about how highly qualified he was and "what was MY qualifications then?"

I said "I don't need to tell you what my qualifications are- I'm just a person you sent a letter to- I do not need to justify that, nor do I need to act "professionally" seeing as I am not one".

He went on to say that I know nothing about the law, and he suggests i get a solictor who knows something to speak to him. "We do have a solicitor- as i have mentioned many times"

 

He said " I have asked you to send those documents so send them through to me!- "

I said "let me correct you please - I OFFERED to send them through to you!"

 

Then he said I wasn't acting professionally,:???: really?

I was totally polite the whole time!

I said I have been more than polite, and I have the right to get you to clarify what your qualifcations are,as you alluded to the fact that you are a solicitor, which you are not."

He was shouting over me "I suggest you need to change your attitude!"

"I said there is no need for me to change my attitude, I am being polite and courteous, at which point he shouted I am ending this conversation- you are very unprofessional, and as he was hanging up i said "you have just shown how unprofessional you are!"

 

It seems even if you are polite and actually have a case, there's no talking reasonably to them.

He has said he will no longer talk to me as I have no idea of the law so get a solicitor and he will talk to them only!:-D

I have the whole thing taped :whoo:

 

I think even if I send all the professional evidence thru to them, they still won't leave us alone until I get the solicitor onto them.

 

Our solicitor said to us that the more the builder does this the more unfavourable it looks when we do finally take him to court.

 

If we just ignore this letter, they will just do the whole statutory demand malarky again...

How can someone just keep bring statutory demand after statutory demand against someone?

If he has had to set it aside once, because of the evidence, he will have to set it aside again, but he'll just keep doing it!

 

Is there ANYONE we can report a) the builder to for harrassment and B) the debt collectors to for misrepresenting their legal standing?

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they haven't got any legal standing no dca has.

 

 

and it wasn't a dca that issued the SD before if you go look.....

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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It was actually the Debt collection agency that sent the statutory demand...The builder was listed as the claimant or whatever, but their name and address was on it too, and we had to contact them about it.

It wasn't "lodged" with the court yet, but the papers were sent to us, so we had to apply to them to set it aside, otherwise we would have had to have gone to the court to ask to have it set aside if they wouldn't agree.

The solicitor said although it wasn't stamped by the court, if we ignored it, after 18 days they could take it to the court and apply to bankrupt us...

 

meanwhile, everytime the wind blows or the rain falls we have slates flying off our roof and water ingress everywhere and we can';t empty our septic system as it is liable to collapse!

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god that's bad

 

 

you don't need a sols to take him to court yourself there are several builder threads here already.

 

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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A Statutory demand would not be lodged at the court until the recipient made moves to have it set aside. Up until that point, the court wont even be aware that one has been delivered.

 

How was the Stat Demand delivered to you ?

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Have you considered issuing a Statutory Demand yourself against the builder ?

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Uploading documents to CAG ** Instructions **

 

Looking for a draft letter? Use the CAG Library

Dealing with Customer Service Departments? - read the CAG Guide first

 

1: Making a PPI claim ? - Q & A's and spreadsheets for single premium policy - HERE

2: Take back control of your finances - Debt Diaries

3: Feel Bullied by Creditors or Debt Collectors? Read Here

4: Staying Calm About Debt  Read Here

5: Forum rules - These have been updated - Please Read

 

 

BCOBS

 

2: Does your Bank play fair - You can force your Bank to play Fair with you

3: Banking Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules

4: BCOBS and Unfair Treatment - Common Examples of Banks Behaving Badly

5: Fair Treatment for Credit Card Holders and Borrowers - COBS

 

Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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I have the SD here, and it says served on you by the creditor: Mr Cowboy builder, and his address, and then signed by the debt collection guy, and underneath it says *position with or relationship to creditor: AGENT.

Then in Part B it says The individual/s to whom any communication regarding this demand may be addressed is : CLS limited, and a guy by the name of "Mike" which is different to the signature on the first page of "Ben".

 

 

That said, we had them set that aside when they saw our letter and evidence from the experts , but i am sure this new mob will just try to pull the same trick put of the hat too ...

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Uploading documents to CAG ** Instructions **

 

Looking for a draft letter? Use the CAG Library

Dealing with Customer Service Departments? - read the CAG Guide first

 

1: Making a PPI claim ? - Q & A's and spreadsheets for single premium policy - HERE

2: Take back control of your finances - Debt Diaries

3: Feel Bullied by Creditors or Debt Collectors? Read Here

4: Staying Calm About Debt  Read Here

5: Forum rules - These have been updated - Please Read

 

 

BCOBS

 

2: Does your Bank play fair - You can force your Bank to play Fair with you

3: Banking Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules

4: BCOBS and Unfair Treatment - Common Examples of Banks Behaving Badly

5: Fair Treatment for Credit Card Holders and Borrowers - COBS

 

Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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There was a long running thread on here about someone from the Liverpool area who had a conservatory badly built and they experienced exactly the same. They had a local gangster turned debt collector turn up, the Police had to be called. They then had various debt collection companies doing exactly the same, on the instructiions of a director of the company, who just would not let it drop. Much money was spent on Solicitors, surveyors etc. I think in the end the home owner won in court, but i am not sure they ever received payment, as the conservatory company director closed the company and set up another.

 

Perhaps you need to try to find other victims of this company and try to get Trading Standards involved.

We could do with some help from you.

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I was thinking about that today actually! :)

 

Do we have to send him the Scotts schedule and ask for renumeration for the damages, or we will seek collection?

 

Our solicitor is very straight laced and methodical and said we must act beyond reproach so that the builder is clearly the jerk here...

We did register his domain name ;)

My husband was thinking of creating a web gallery under his domain name of the said wonderful work!!!!

No defamatory statements we could get done on- just things like "this is our newly renovated roof etc" and pictures, as it speaks for itself....

The solicitor recommended against it for the time being.

 

Also this guy is apparently on the master builders association, and I wanted to send through our evidence to them to get him taken off it, as they were quite interested in the story, but the solicitor said not to do anything like this yet, as if it goes to court it might look a bit underhanded.

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Funnily enough, I read of other peoples debt collectors turning up in grey pinstriped suits too!

Must be the uniform!

we have since found out this "builder" usually does small jobs for people.

The scaffholding company said they had never known him to do any big jobs at all, and they do the scaffholding for every company almost around here.

I think he jumped at the chance to take our job since it was a big amount when he didn't have the skills to do so...as such our house has gone up a category on the conservation risk register from vulnerable, to AT RISK :(

The only way we might find these other people would be to set up a website...no one I have asked since then has even heard of him in the area!

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Here is the thread i mentioned. Some of the things mentionec rang bells.

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?321244-Being-sued-by-Cowboy-Builders-please-help-***-Claim-Struck-Out-***/page39

 

Wonder whether the same company director is involved.

We could do with some help from you.

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It was delivered in person, by way of a man looking like a pimp in his pinstriped suit, who was called XXXXXXXX.

 

He even wrote his name and mobile number on a bright pink post-it note I still have, to make sure "I knew" who he was!

Despite the fact that both we and the solicitor had instructed them NOT to set foot on our property under ANY circumstances, he still managed to find his way onto our 4 acres, pretending to be "lost"and asking directions from me!

Edited by Andyorch
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I read that thread last year!

 

I don't think it was the same company we used...We're in Wales.

 

It was xxxxxxxx involved in the other case.

 

When the other case was looked into, there were a number of companies linked and they were not all in the Liverpool area.

 

If this company is registered with companies house, it might be worth looking into the names of directors, their history and what other directorships they have held. You just never know what you may find out.

We could do with some help from you.

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Thread moved to the correct forum.

We could do with some help from you.

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Have you asked your solicitor to apply for the SD to be set aside? If a SD has been served in relation to a disputed debt, you can usually get that set aside without much difficulty. You would also usually get all your costs (on an indemnity basis). You can then send your own debt collectors after him for those costs, or use the costs to proceed with winding up the company, which would put him under pressure because insolvency proceedings would usually allow the bank to require immediate payment of his debt.

 

You could apply for an injunction to prevent him serving future SDs and chasing you with DCAs, but that is a little more difficult.

 

I don't think there is much point arguing with the debt collectors. They are just employed to chase the debt and are unlikely to know the history. Best to try and ignore them (and have SDs set aside). I guess you could have a 'template response' to send to any DCAs denying the debt and giving the brief history to explain that you won't be paying and that the builder should take court action if he disagrees.

 

I would also inform the police given the number of DCAs as it sounds like this is crossing into harassment territory.

 

On the assets point, if you know his address, you can find out on the land registry for ‎£1 whether his property has been charged to the bank. It is very possible that his company has taken on a lot of debt on the basis of a personal guarantee he gave to the bank. That would not help you because you will not benefit from the guarantee.

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Have you asked your solicitor to apply for the SD to be set aside?

 

I would also inform the police given the number of DCAs as it sounds like this is crossing into harassment territory.

 

On the assets point, if you know his address, you can find out on the land registry for ‎£1 whether his property has been charged to the bank. It is very possible that his company has taken on a lot of debt on the basis of a personal guarantee he gave to the bank. That would not help you because you will not benefit from the guarantee.

 

Yes, the SD was from the 2nd DCA and we got that set aside.

This is now the third DCA and we haven't got that far yet.

 

On the subject of a personal guarantee, I was under the impression that it could help us, as if he didn't pay a judgement if we took him to court, we could apply for a winding up order on the company, at which point he would have to repay the bank, but couldn't without selling his home- therefore he would surely seek to avoid that happening, so would have to settle his debt?

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Yes, the SD was from the 2nd DCAicon and we got that set aside.

This is now the third DCA and we haven't got that far yet.

If you had the SD set aside by the solicitor, presumably you were awarded costs? If so, you should send that debt to HCEOs to collect. He will be less willing to issue SDs like confetti if he ends up with bailiffs at his door for a costs bill each time he does it.

 

On the subject of a personal guarantee, I was under the impression that it could help us, as if he didn't pay a judgement if we took him to court, we could apply for a winding up order on the company, at which point he would have to repay the bank, but couldn't without selling his home- therefore he would surely seek to avoid that happening, so would have to settle his debt?

Yes, I agree. It sounds likely that he has a business loan from the bank. This is probably secured against the company's assets and secured by a personal guarantee. His loan documentation will allow the bank to call in the debt if the company is wound up (or earlier, potentially as soon as a winding up petition is launched). This would add pressure to settle with you.

 

The difficulty is that this is currently a disputed debt. If you serve your own SD in relation to a disputed counterclaim, he could apply to have that set aside and would probably win (costs would follow). You could certainly go down this road after you have judgment (or if you have a costs order against the company worth more than £750).

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If you had the SD set aside by the solicitor, presumably you were awarded costs? If so, you should send that debt to HCEOs to collect. He will be less willing to issue SDs like confetti if he ends up with bailiffs at his door for a costs bill each time he does it.

 

 

.

 

Imagining sending an SD to wind him up is pleasurable, but our solicitor wouldn't allow that anyway..He said we must behave impeccably as when we go to court, the behavour of the builder will be unfavourable and we must not do anything to appear unreasonable ourselves.

 

When the solicitor sent all the correspondence back and forth with the last DCA ,he warned them about game playing any wasting solicitor time, and marked all correspondence "Without prejudice SAVE AS TO COSTS", so they were warned.

I thought we could only get costs back had we had to go to the judge to have it set aside?

The DCA agreed to set it aside upon siting the evidence and that was that.

 

Are you saying that because it was set side, even just by the DCA and not a judge, we could still send a bill for the solicitors time through to the builder and demand payment legally?

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