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  • FIRST POST
    • DevilsAdvocate1
    • By DevilsAdvocate1 7th Feb 18, 12:04 PM
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    DevilsAdvocate1
    Self employed problem
    • #1
    • 7th Feb 18, 12:04 PM
    Self employed problem 7th Feb 18 at 12:04 PM
    I'm self employed and one of my customers short paid my last invoice by £750. I had no notification from them that they were going to do this.

    When I contacted them to point out the mistake I was told that they would look into it. A week later I received an email to say that my work had been substandard and that they had deducted my invoice for this reason. I'm not going to get the £750.

    I was thinking of taking them to the small claims court. However, I can't see how I can disprove what they are saying about my work. Can they just deduct money like that with no notification and no option for my to improve?

    They've reduced my invoice by more than 50% which even if their claims were true seems excessive. Their answer is that it was written in the brief, so I was aware. However, I didn't receive the brief until after comitting to the work. They have told me that if I'd asked they would have provided it beforehand, so its my fault as they have provided it to other clients.

    Where do I stand on this. I was thinking of starting a small claim action but don't want to throw good money after bad.
Page 1
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 7th Feb 18, 1:12 PM
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    Comms69
    • #2
    • 7th Feb 18, 1:12 PM
    • #2
    • 7th Feb 18, 1:12 PM
    What was the work, what did you do wrong?
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 7th Feb 18, 1:36 PM
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    steampowered
    • #3
    • 7th Feb 18, 1:36 PM
    • #3
    • 7th Feb 18, 1:36 PM
    Yes, you can take them to small claims court. It is cheap and easy to do.

    If the Defendant refused to pay despite being served with a small claim, the judge would have to decide the case on a 'balance of probabilities'.

    The judge would look at the evidence presented to him, and would have to make an assessment as to whether your work was in breach of contract or not. The burden of proof would be on the company to prove what was wrong with with your work.

    If the judge concluded that the work was in breach of contract, the company would be awarded damages which can be off-set against your invoices. Damages should put the company in the position it should have been in if the contract was properly performed, i.e. they will be the financial cost to the company of fixing the dodgy work. It is up to the company to prove this cost.

    If you were not told about the issues or given an opportunity to fix them, you could argue that the company has failed to 'mitigate their loss' and should not be allowed the deduction.

    If you didn't receive the brief until after both sides had committed to the work, then the brief will not form part of your contract. It is their responsibility to make sure that any contract terms they want are provided before the contract is entered into.

    If you want to take this further the next step would be to prepare a 'letter before action' requesting payment within 14 days and stating that you will be bringing a county court claim if the money is not paid.
    • DevilsAdvocate1
    • By DevilsAdvocate1 7th Feb 18, 3:09 PM
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    • #4
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:09 PM
    • #4
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:09 PM
    What was the work, what did you do wrong?
    Originally posted by Comms69
    They say the work was submitted after the deadline. Sometimes by 1 day. They have then deducted over 50% from my payment.

    Its a bit confusing as there were 2 deadlines - one for the project and one for individual pieces of work. I met the project deadline in all cases. However, they also stipulated that individual pieces of work had to be submitted within a certain timeframe of being completed and I did not always hit this separate condition. And even this is not straightforward.

    For example, I might have completed the work on Thursday and they wanted it sent with 48 hours. But I was away from home and arrived back at home in the early hours of Saturday. I then had Saturday off to spend time with my family and sent the work in on the Sunday. This is over 48 hours, but should it not be 48 working hours. They are not open on a Saturday or Sunday, so even if I sent it to them on the Saturday they would not look at it until the Monday morning. So I haven't held them up.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 7th Feb 18, 3:18 PM
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    Comms69
    • #5
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:18 PM
    • #5
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:18 PM
    They say the work was submitted after the deadline. Sometimes by 1 day. They have then deducted over 50% from my payment.

    Its a bit confusing as there were 2 deadlines - one for the project and one for individual pieces of work. I met the project deadline in all cases. However, they also stipulated that individual pieces of work had to be submitted within a certain timeframe of being completed and I did not always hit this separate condition. And even this is not straightforward.

    For example, I might have completed the work on Thursday and they wanted it sent with 48 hours. But I was away from home and arrived back at home in the early hours of Saturday. I then had Saturday off to spend time with my family and sent the work in on the Sunday. This is over 48 hours, but should it not be 48 working hours. They are not open on a Saturday or Sunday, so even if I sent it to them on the Saturday they would not look at it until the Monday morning. So I haven't held them up.
    Originally posted by DevilsAdvocate1
    I don't think that's worth a 50% deduction, but I also don't think you should be dictating their timelines etc.


    yours is not to question why often project managers will work weekends and your work being late could hold up other aspects.
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 7th Feb 18, 3:24 PM
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    • #6
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:24 PM
    • #6
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:24 PM

    For example, I might have completed the work on Thursday and they wanted it sent with 48 hours. But I was away from home and arrived back at home in the early hours of Saturday. I then had Saturday off to spend time with my family and sent the work in on the Sunday. This is over 48 hours, but should it not be 48 working hours. They are not open on a Saturday or Sunday, so even if I sent it to them on the Saturday they would not look at it until the Monday morning. So I haven't held them up.
    Originally posted by DevilsAdvocate1
    If they state "48 hours", that is what they mean, 48 hours. Whether or not they were open when the work would have been received is immaterial, you failed to comply with their requirements.

    However this does not mean I agree with the company arbitrarily deducting £750 from your invoice
    • DevilsAdvocate1
    • By DevilsAdvocate1 7th Feb 18, 3:33 PM
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    • #7
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:33 PM
    • #7
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:33 PM

    yours is not to question why often project managers will work weekends and your work being late could hold up other aspects.
    Originally posted by Comms69
    With this particular company they don't work weekends. And in fact when they proof read my work it is often 2 weeks or so after I sent it to them. They used to say 5 days, this 2 day thing is new and I've even seen one which said 12 hours.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 7th Feb 18, 3:54 PM
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    Comms69
    • #8
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:54 PM
    • #8
    • 7th Feb 18, 3:54 PM
    With this particular company they don't work weekends. And in fact when they proof read my work it is often 2 weeks or so after I sent it to them. They used to say 5 days, this 2 day thing is new and I've even seen one which said 12 hours.
    Originally posted by DevilsAdvocate1
    It's not up to you.


    Sorry to be blunt, but if I'm paying you to deliver to a timescale, that's what I'm spending my money on.


    If I am paying you to produce a piece of work and then send it to the shedder, that's up to me.
    • DevilsAdvocate1
    • By DevilsAdvocate1 7th Feb 18, 4:29 PM
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    • #9
    • 7th Feb 18, 4:29 PM
    • #9
    • 7th Feb 18, 4:29 PM
    But they're not paying me, thats the point. Though they've still used my work. They also owe me expenses that I incurred. These were due to be paid in October. And I have been told twice that they have been paid.
    • jobbingmusician
    • By jobbingmusician 7th Feb 18, 7:39 PM
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    jobbingmusician
    Did they raise any of these concerns with you whilst you were performing the contract? I think if they did not, a court would look quite harshly on them suddenly deducting 50% from your final payment. There is also the issue that they did not know, without 'looking into it', why you had not been paid.

    You also state that you were not given the T & C of the contract until after you had signed it. Hindsight, and all that, but did you put in writing to them the fact that you would exercise your best endeavours and goodwill to meet these T & C, but that they were imposed after the contract had already been agreed? ( I ask not to make you feel bad, but so that you will do this next time )

    It sounds to me as if you have a good small claims case. However, it may be worth doing as much research as you can before launching. There is no point in winning your court case if the company doesn't have the money to pay you, and folds..........
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    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 7th Feb 18, 8:09 PM
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    steampowered
    They say the work was submitted after the deadline. Sometimes by 1 day. They have then deducted over 50% from my payment.
    Originally posted by DevilsAdvocate1
    If the brief was shown to you before a contract was entered into (and therefore forms part of the contract), and the brief says that pay will be deducted if you don't hit the timescales, and you accepted the brief ... then they can deduct.

    If the brief wasn't provided to you until after the contract had begun, they can only deduct fees to the extent that the employer can prove it has suffered financial loss as a result of you delivering the work late.

    Clearly, the employer is not going to be able to prove financial loss if they were sent work on a Sunday rather than a Saturday.

    If you aren't too fussed about working for them again - it is probably worth going ahead with a short 'letter before action' followed by small claims court for the full amount.
    • DevilsAdvocate1
    • By DevilsAdvocate1 7th Feb 18, 8:40 PM
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    DevilsAdvocate1
    Thanks everyone I really appreciate you taking the time to reply to me.

    I definitely won't be working for them again. Its not the first time its happened and its just not worth the hassle. I suspect that they have cash flow problems and are using this as an excuse to try to get out of paying.

    If I go to the small claims court and I lost, would they be able to make any counter claims against me. Its been indicated that I would have to pay all their legal expenses if I lost and I wondered if this was true.
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 8th Feb 18, 1:06 PM
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    steampowered
    If the claim is for less than £10k, it is allocated to the small claims track, which means that legal costs are not awarded. You should only expect to pay their legal costs if you lose if the claim is for more than £10k.

    The court has the power to award legal costs if it feels that one party has behaved particularly unreasonably, but in small claims track this is only used in a very small percentage of cases to punish vexatious litigants.

    If you start a claim they are able to make a counterclaim against you. However they would be required to prove that counterclaim to succeed - e.g. they could counterclaim for £1,000 rather than the £750 they are using now, but would only get awarded that if they could prove to the judge that (i) they suffered £1,000 of actual financial loss as a result of the work being slightly late or (ii) they were entitled to £1,000 under the agreed terms of the contract between you and the company. It sounds unlikely they could prove either of those things.

    If you search through the forums or elsewhere (take a look at CAG which has a lot of threads about small claims court proceedings), you will generally find that people who start valid claims tend almost always get a very good result - in the majority of cases the Defendant settles once they receive a claim and realise their bluff has been called; and in other cases people who bring valid claims usually win in court.
    Last edited by steampowered; 08-02-2018 at 1:09 PM.
    • DevilsAdvocate1
    • By DevilsAdvocate1 10th Feb 18, 12:16 PM
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    DevilsAdvocate1
    Thanks, that's really helpful. He made it sound as though I could lose thousands. Think it was a veiled threat, I certainly felt threatened. He said he'd been taken to the small claims court 5 times in the past and he alway won and always made sure that he then claimed for expenses.

    We are having one last conversation on Monday and depending on that I will start a small claims process. I have now received my expenses, so thats one less thing to worry about.

    I also made a slight error and invoiced for one item twice, so the claim is now £700. They have told me that their records show they "only" withheld £500 so not sure where the other £200 is. They are not sure either and this is one thing we are going to clear up on Monday.

    I really hope I don't have to take it further. The really odd thing is that he seems to think I'll continue working for him after this.
    Last edited by DevilsAdvocate1; 10-02-2018 at 12:18 PM. Reason: Added some info.
    • DevilsAdvocate1
    • By DevilsAdvocate1 14th Feb 18, 11:25 AM
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    DevilsAdvocate1
    Just an update. They've overturned some of the deductions after I supplied some evidence that they were wrong. Most still stand though. Very frustrating as I was out of the country for 4 weeks on holiday and know for a fact I sent all work before I left. Who would be doing work on holiday?

    Yet, according to their records about half of these jobs were late because I supposedly sent them on dates when I was on holiday. I've queried this and been told that their systems cannot be wrong and the deductions stand.

    Want to start court proceedings but can't until I know the exact amount I'm owed. Apparently they are prepared to negotiate on the ones where they deducted 50%.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 14th Feb 18, 11:30 AM
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    Comms69
    Just an update. They've overturned some of the deductions after I supplied some evidence that they were wrong. Most still stand though. Very frustrating as I was out of the country for 4 weeks on holiday and know for a fact I sent all work before I left. Who would be doing work on holiday?

    Yet, according to their records about half of these jobs were late because I supposedly sent them on dates when I was on holiday. I've queried this and been told that their systems cannot be wrong and the deductions stand.

    Want to start court proceedings but can't until I know the exact amount I'm owed. Apparently they are prepared to negotiate on the ones where they deducted 50%.
    Originally posted by DevilsAdvocate1
    you have 6 years to claim so plenty of time. HOWEVER don't sign a full and final settlement agreement
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