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Annie217

Taking cowboy builder to small claims

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Hello, I'm new here.

 

In April, a builder started a small extension and some internal work to knock through walls. The building inspector visited in May, and was not happy with a number of aspects of the work. The builder did not agree with the feedback, and walked out.

 

I have spoken to a solicitor who advised me to get a RICS survey, which I am currently organising. I will be a litigant in person, but am taking some legal advice at key stages during the process. As the amount is unlikely to be over £10k it will probably go through the small claims.

 

I have paid the builder in advance for work that is not yet completed, and for work I though was completed but needs to be remedied. In addition, he did a couple of other things I have not yet paid for, but the inspector wants these changed, so I have refused to pay.

 

I have asked the builder to try mediation, but he does not reply to this point.

 

Any general advice for me from anyone who has experienced this before? I've never been to court.

 

In particular, I have checked and he does not own the house he lives in. He drives an expensive car, and I've seen the DVLA form for finding the registered keeper, but don't know if I can use this, and in any case this will not tell me the owner. He is a sole trader. Is there anything else I can do to find out his ability to pay? I've checked the .gov website on bankruptcy, and he's not on there.

 

If I win the case and he does not want to pay (which I think might happen), I've seen something on the justice website about getting him to go to court and give details of his bank accounts. Has anyone got money back this was successfully?

 

Also, when I have calculated the value of my claim (which I can't do yet until after the RICS survey then getting builders to quote for remedial work), how long does it take to get to court?

 

He is being really childish, refusing to give me or the architect his progress photos showing what's underneath the floors, as the council has not yet inspected this.

 

Any advice from people who have been through this before?

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Hi, I'm new here. I've just posted my situation about a problem with a builder on the legal forum. If anyone has experience of going through the small claims process on a similar issue I would appreciate advice.

 

Thanks.

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Well you certainly taken the right first step in checking up to see whether or not he owns a property. However, it would have been much better if you had taken this step before you even gave him the work or paid him any money.

 

You could get access to his bank accounts through a court process – but this assumes that he has gone money stored away in them.

 

I'm afraid that people like this tend to find it quite easy to avoid the effects of a court judgement against them and it is difficult to know what to advise you.

 

Do you even know where he lives?

 

The business of getting a judgement against him will be fairly straightforward. You will issue your claim, he will be unlikely to defend, and you will get your judgement. If he does defend then you will have to pay a hearing fee and if it does go to court, then you are likely to win and you will be awarded your compensation and your costs. However, enforcing the judgement will be a completely different matter and frankly if you're not able to ascertain what his assets are and where they are, then I'm afraid that it is scarcely worth beginning.

 

And of course, if you do not have his address then you will not be able to serve the papers in the first place.

 

What is his name?


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I know where he lives, and it's nearby. He's lived in this area all his life.

 

I don't wish to publish his name, but he's a sole trader so unlikely anyone else will have dealt with him.

 

Do you have personal experience of a similar case?

 

I'm interested in finding out the details of whether I could find out if he owns his car, and how to get money from his bank account if I win.

 

For example, would he know what date I was going to get the money from his bank? Having used him, I know what dates there is likely to more money in his account.

Edited by Annie217

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Also, how easy or difficult would it be for him to become bankrupt? Does he have to prove he doesn't have any money, or can he just decide to become bankrupt and fill in the forms? Does he have to convince a court or some other body to allow him to become bankrupt? He has a very high spending lifestyle, so I know he has plenty of money.

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Also, how easy or difficult would it be for him to become bankrupt? Does he have to prove he doesn't have any money, or can he just decide to become bankrupt and fill in the forms? Does he have to convince a court or some other body to allow him to become bankrupt? He has a very high spending lifestyle, so I know he has plenty of money.

 

Sadly : a high spending lifestyle can't be relied on to know he has plenty of money, only that he spends plenty of money.

 

If he is spending money that he is getting in by treating others like he has treated you : he may have no savings / assets.

The expensive car might be on a lease, so as others have noted : find out as much as you can about his likely assets before deciding if it is worth suing him.

How did you make payment?

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Sadly : a high spending lifestyle can't be relied on to know he has plenty of money, only that he spends plenty of money.

 

If he is spending money that he is getting in by treating others like he has treated you : he may have no savings / assets.

The expensive car might be on a lease, so as others have noted : find out as much as you can about his likely assets before deciding if it is worth suing him.

How did you make payment?

 

 

This is exactly what I'm trying to do, and am seeking help tom this forum on how to do this.

 

Can anyone answer my questions above? I' m seeking specific answers on how to check him out rather than generalities.

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How did you make payment?

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It was not cash - I have full records.

 

How does this question answer my questions about how I find out if he owns his car etc?

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It was not cash - I have full records.

 

How does this question answer my questions about how I find out if he owns his car etc?

 

It doesn't answer regarding his car, but the method used may suggest either:

a) an alternative solution, or

b) a different source for some of the info you require,

Which is why I asked it a 2nd time, after you didn't answer the first time I asked.

 

Answering "not cash" isn't the same as "it was method X" (debit card, credit card, cheque, bank transfer, barter, PayPal or whatever).

Why would you not want to answer?

 

You don't have to answer, but it makes it look like you only want the specific answer to the exact question you asked, only in the way you want, rather than accepting other possibilities / other help.

 

So, I'm out.

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It was not cash - I have full records.

 

How does this question answer my questions about how I find out if he owns his car etc?

 

As a general member of the public I don't think you can do a DVLA search on someone else's vehicle to establish the registered owner.

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It may help if I clarify the stage I'm at.

 

I have been through the CAB process of letters before action. The builder gives very childish replies. I have asked him about whether he would be prepared to go to mediation, and have been met with a brick wall.

 

I now need to finish compiling my evidence by getting a RICS report, then using these for quotes, then filling in the court forms.

 

However, before I incur more costs on this, I want to cheek what lies ahead, and whether he can pay.Is he likely to go bankrupt to avoid paying? What else might he do? See my questions above.

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It was not cash - I have full records.

 

How does this question answer my questions about how I find out if he owns his car etc?

 

So how?..Cheque or Debit Card or Credit Card..if you answer this you may not need to sue anyone as you can do a section 75 claim or recall on a Debit Card.

 

We ask questions for a reason to provide other alternatives.

 

Andy


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So how?..Cheque or Debit Card or Credit Card..if you answer this you may not need to sue anyone as you can do a section 75 claim or recall on a Debit Card.

 

Andy

 

 

I'm fully aware of the protection I would have had if I had paid by either debit or credit card. This does not apply. As stated above, I have his bank details as I paid via bank transfer.

 

I've been through all the advice from CAB and have had a session with a solicitor.

 

I'm really interested in how things work from here rather than rehashing the past.

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As a general member of the public I don't think you can do a DVLA search on someone else's vehicle to establish the registered owner.

 

Thanks, I wasn't sure about this.

 

Is there a way I can find out if the car is on HP, owned outright, or on a bank loan?

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You could get access to his bank accounts through a court process – but this assumes that he has gone money stored away in them.

 

Can i do this now, or would I have to wait until I won at court?

 

 

However, enforcing the judgement will be a completely different matter and frankly if you're not able to ascertain what his assets are and where they are, then I'm afraid that it is scarcely worth beginning.

 

One of my main questions is how do I ascertain what assets he has? i have never done this before, and I assume people on this forum have, and should therefore advise me how to go about this.

 

 

 

What is his name?

 

Solicitor has advised me not to name him publicly as he could claim for defamation Of course, if I win at court this would be a completely different matter. I'm considering going to the local press to name and shame him, but I've been advised not to name him yet.

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Thanks, I wasn't sure about this.

 

Is there a way I can find out if the car is on HP, owned outright, or on a bank loan?

 

No. Not at this stage.

 

Perhaps if you win a CCJ and apply to Court for an order to obtain information.

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No. Not at this stage.

 

Perhaps if you win a CCJ and apply to Court for an order to obtain information.

 

So, on this forum, and other places online, people advise to find out what assets a person has before taking them to small claims.

 

Are you saying there is no way to do this, unless they own a property?

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So, on this forum, and other places online, people advise to find out what assets a person has before taking them to small claims.

 

Are you saying there is no way to do this, unless they own a property?

 

Correct.

 

Prior to issuing a claim there is little you can do.

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Correct.

 

Prior to issuing a claim there is little you can do.

 

Checking for outstanding CCJ's doesn't directly look at assets, but is an indicator.

 

There are other methods that have been used, but if their legality isn't entirely clear : I'm not going to detail them here.

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Checking for outstanding CCJ's doesn't directly look at assets, but is an indicator.

 

There are other methods that have been used, but if their legality isn't entirely clear : I'm not going to detail them here.

 

Any vehicle hire agreements, loans and bank accounts etc are private and confidential prior to issuing.

 

Imagine if the outcry if the roles were reversed and creditors could get access to debtors private information...

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