By brocs1, Jun 28 2017 08:49AM
We are often instructed by clients who have experienced problems with plumbing works at their residential property. A frequent problem is where a plumber fails to carry out works with reasonable care and skill and the plumber then demands payment by issuing an invoice. The invoice is then disputed by the customer and a stalemate is reached.
The first stage is to attempt to resolve the dispute amicably. If the parties are no longer on speaking terms you should consider writing a formal letter to the plumber explaining why the invoice is not going to be paid. You should outline the reasons why you believe the plumber failed to use reasonable care and skill. It may be sensible at this stage to get a quote for the remedial works required (to find out how much it costs to put right the work that the plumber did/damage caused). The quote for the remedial works can be used as evidence later down the line and can also be used to quantify your anticipated financial losses
Disputes over the quality of workmanship can be subjective and what appears to be a significant problem to the customer (damage to tiles, damage to a shower unit/toilet) can be seen differently by the plumber who caused the damage. Photographs of the damage (if the damage is visible) should be attached to the first letter to the plumber and copies of the letter and the photographs should be kept by you.
The first letter would typically notify the plumber of the steps needed to put right the works (this can either be in the form of compensation – if you are instructing an alternative plumber/tradesperson to carry out the works) or if you propose that the plumber carries out the remedial works. If you do not receive a response from the plumber to this first letter you can send a further letter known as a “letter before claim” giving the plumber 28 days to agree to a remedy (compensation or the remedial works). The letter would state that if after 28 days have expired a satisfactory resolution has not been achieved then a county court claim will be issued. In the “letter before claim” it may be advisable to put the plumber on notice that your claim will include i. the costs of the remedial works ii. court costs iii. Interest. If after the 28 days have expired you have not received a response county court proceedings can be issued. Once the claim has been issued the plumber will have a limited time to respond and if the plumber fails to respond to the proceedings then a county court judgment (a CCJ) can be entered in default.
We often advise clients who have reached the stage where they have issued a county court claim and then received a defence from the other side. The court process can be daunting to those unfamiliar with the terminology and we understand that clients often feel more confident when legally represented.
Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford and Market Harborough, Leicester. Our administrative office is at the Harborough Innovation Centre, Leicester Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 7WB.