Many thanks for all your advice and to those who emailed me directly.
Update so far.....
The fitter has arranged a corgi registered guy (his mate!) to do the
certificate in a few days. It is obvious that my original fitter is
not corgi registered but will be using this job as part of his
assessment, under the guise of being supervised the entire time (which
is untrue as we saw him carry out the work on his own, and don't know
his mate from Adam), and getting paid for the whole thing.
The fitter has even told me that his corgi mate has been on holiday
abroad the entire time he was doing the job!!
We still owe this guy a lot of money for work he has still not
completed and in the last few days various concerns have come to light
over his competence in plumbing installations - we found out that he
had not even installed the washing machine and dishwasher properly!
The engineer for the appliance company said he should not really have
put it right as it would have invalidated the guarantee, but he did it
out of goodwill! We also have concerns over taps, pipes and lord knows
what else is awaiting us after further use of the facilities. Even
though we owe him £1000s he has still dragged the job out, which has
caused us to lose a tenant on the property already and has caused us
so much stress but he almost doesn't seem bothered. To find out he has
been lying to us all along and breaking the law to boot is just
getting too much....
[snip tales of woe]
| Even though we owe him £1000s he has still dragged the job out,
| which has caused us to lose a tenant on the property already
That's a quantifiable financial loss. I think you need to Call Your
I've had a similar situation, although with a different type of
project, where the supplier took longer than stated, didn't complete
certain aspects properly and did some property damage through
incompetence and lack of supervision into the bargain.
I had withheld the remaining payment of just under £10k. The
supplier had agreed to only a £1500 deduction to cover the property
repair, so we were a long way apart.
I gave them several opportunities to fix the other outstanding issues
and they failed miserably, still persisting in holding out for
complete payment. After about a month, and several letters, they
brought in their solicitor who began threatening legal action. They
hadn't prepared their position at all well and I sent them
photographs, copies of a diary that I had kept etc. The offer was
upped to £2500 on their side and at that point I contacted my
I bought an hour of his time to discuss how to handle this at a cost
of just over £100, which in the context of what was at stake, was not
a lot. Nevertheless, the costs can quickly mount if he were expected
to do much.
I had included in my counter claim amounts for time lost supervising
the supplier's subcontractors and other inconveniences. His advice
was that unless I was self employed or in a profession that bills
explicitly for time then a court would be unlikely to take that time
and its cost into account.
His additional advice, if I was prepared to settle at the figure, was
to offer to settle at a figure just under £5000 (e.g. £4995), and to
pay the difference to reduce the outstanding balance to this figure.
The strategy behind this is that this is the break point where a claim
would be heard in the Small Claims Division rather than in full court.
Any solicitor will know this and it's virtually a coded message that
one understands the game.
I was advised that in general, the small claims court will err towards
the customer in this type of case where a supplier has been
incompetent, done poor work etc. Moreover, the case will be heard
in the locality of the defendant, and in this case, the supplier was
half way across the country. This would have the potential of
incurring a lot of professional cost for them, as well as management
After three further exchanges of letter where I stood firm and called
their bluff, the supplier's solicitor had clearly been told to settle.
We did so, at £4000 plus £1500 worth of other goods from the supplier.
Throughout this exercise, I kept records of what was happening and
every letter was sent by special delivery so make sure that there was
a record of signature and receipt.
I also made sure that each letter repeated the points of the previous
ones in full (word processors are great for this) and got up to seven
pages at the end, with plenty of cross references. Of course, the
supplier's solicitor would have to read all of this stuff to be able
to follow the details. I estimate that that would have cost them
quite a bit in legal fees.
A dispute with an individual would not need to have this amount of
standoff, but nevertheless the principle of withholding payment and
making the supplier take legal action is a sound one.
To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
Just to clarify the aim here...
They still want money. Are you saying that since its under £5000 it will
only be heard in the SCD if they sue for it? I thought their solicitor
could ask for it to be heard in the full court?
IANAL, but as it was explained to me by someone who is, this is a
question of normal practice and costs.
Generally, small claims procedure is used for amounts under £5k, fast
track for £5k to £15k and multi-track above that. Details are on the
Court Service web site.
The point is, that going for the fast track could be done, but would
have to be justified (not likely here) and would imply more costs.
Also, we should keep in mind the storyline from the OP. There seems
to be fairly clear indication that the installer has broken the law,
and remember that this is a criminal offence.
I had occasion to check an installer's registration with CORGI on
Friday. This particular person is employed and there is a CORGI
registration for his firm. He is registered under the firm's
registration and certified to do specific work. You can ask CORGI
whether an individual is certified to do X but they won't give a list
of a person's qualifications. Moreover, in the case of this type of
registration, the individual can only do work for the firm and
invoiced by the firm. He is not allowed to do work on the side -
that apparently requires an individual registration.
Either way, they can check by firm or by individual, and it does sound
as though the OP's installer falls outside of either category.
In the light of that, I wonder whether he would really want to involve
himself in the court system, albeit a civil action? I suppose that
the OP couldn't really hold that up as a reason not to pay since it is
tantamount to blackmail.
It seems that the scenario could result in the installer trying to
pursue "alternative means" of debt collection. If he did nothing,
which is probably unlikely it leaves the matter rather open ended.
Faced with this situation I think that I would do the following:
- I wouldn't accept the offer of "a mate" doing an inspection and
- Get an independent and preferably expensive organisation like BG to
come and do an inspection and issue a certificate.
- Get an Institute of Plumbing registered plumber to check the
plumbing work and provide a report. Not that I set huge store by this
organisation but it's as good as it gets.
- Have the two contractors above carry out any remedial work required.
- Send payment to the original fitter less any and all costs from
above, with an accompanying letter saying that this is in full and
- Report the guy to CORGI. Not only does he appear to have done a
poor job, but he also appears to have committed a criminal offence and
to have borne false witness to try and cover that up.
Faced with that, I don't think that the guy would be very likely to
pursue a claim.
I suppose that one could go as far as to issue a claim for loss of
rent for having lost a potential tenant - whether that would stand up,
I don't know.
To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
Look at the court service web site. There is now an on-line route
to having your dispute.
Since so many cases are of a very similar structure, why not?
In case you were wondering, yes, the Americans have already called it
To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
"Andy Hall" wrote
| I suppose that one could go as far as to issue a claim for loss of
| rent for having lost a potential tenant - whether that would stand up,
| I don't know.
IANAL but I think it would have a good chance. It is an actual,
quantifiable, loss of income suffered (rather than a salaried person's loss
of time, which as you say the lower courts are reluctant to award). Moreover
as the fitter was, presumably, explicitly asked for a Landlord's Safety
Certificate, he would have been aware that the OP was intending to rent out
the property, and this loss would therefore be Reasonably Foreseable.
See the FAQ.
It could well be that he was registered as an 'operative' under the last
firm he worked for.
But now he is self-employed / in partnership he is operating under a
If the card he showed you was valid for this year till March 04 and had
his photo and name on it I would leave the matter rest. He will register
in his new business next year.
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
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