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  • FIRST POST
    • Fast_ted
    • By Fast_ted 10th Aug 18, 10:58 AM
    • 18Posts
    • 3Thanks
    Fast_ted
    Who is building contract with? Legal advice needed
    • #1
    • 10th Aug 18, 10:58 AM
    Who is building contract with? Legal advice needed 10th Aug 18 at 10:58 AM
    Hi,

    I signed a building contract for an extension to my home. The builder walked away with a large amount of money and leaving substandard works which needed to be redone. The contract is with a limited company that never existed however the builder had another limited company which is now dissolved. The builder is arguing my contract is with his other company despite no mention of this company on the contract documents. Who is my contract with - the person who carried out the works or his other company?

    Thanks,

    FT
Page 2
    • Fast_ted
    • By Fast_ted 10th Aug 18, 2:00 PM
    • 18 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    Fast_ted
    Hi Penny,


    I am still pursuing a criminal conviction but it's hard work getting it taken seriously! It is all very dodgy but hopefully I will get somewhere. Not ready to give up yet.....
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 10th Aug 18, 2:08 PM
    • 6,098 Posts
    • 16,023 Thanks
    EachPenny
    I am still pursuing a criminal conviction but it's hard work getting it taken seriously! It is all very dodgy but hopefully I will get somewhere. Not ready to give up yet.....
    Originally posted by Fast_ted
    Did he give you an invoice for the work? Did he include VAT, and does the invoice quote his (or any) VAT number?
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • Fast_ted
    • By Fast_ted 10th Aug 18, 2:12 PM
    • 18 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    Fast_ted
    He did give me an invoice and included VAT but not VAT number mentioned
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 10th Aug 18, 2:32 PM
    • 6,098 Posts
    • 16,023 Thanks
    EachPenny
    I think we do have a lawful contract as there was offer, acceptance and consideration. He provided the offer we accepted and paid him for the work. So there was clear intent to form a contract as the company doesn't exist I would think by default it falls to the person who carries out the works as teneighty's post.
    Originally posted by Fast_ted
    It isn't as simple as this. In contract law you'd also need to consider whether the offer and acceptance was lawful, and if the consideration was actually paid in accordance with the contract.

    You believed you were entering into a contract with a limited company, not an individual. He wasn't authorised to enter into a contract on behalf of the named limited company because it didn't exist. And the 'consideration' was paid into a bank account but you don't know whose account it is.

    Taking some other examples to illustrate the point, if I conned you into signing a contract with MSE Construction Services Ltd it wouldn't make MSE liable for anything. If I worked for a real company called MSE Construction Services Ltd and agreed a contract with you, then I personally am not liable for anything (unless I acted fraudulently). The person agreeing the contract has to have authority to do so, and if there is no authority, then the contract (probably) doesn't exist.

    This is something you really need professional legal advice on, it is a complex area of contract law. (I am vaguely familiar with it due to a situation I was once involved in at work, we ended up going to a barrister to get legal advice in that case )

    As for the VAT issue, if he has charged you VAT but not given you a VAT number then there is the potential for a VAT fraud to have taken place. It might be worth getting in touch with HMRC and ask if there is anything you can do (e.g. make a formal report).
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • Fast_ted
    • By Fast_ted 10th Aug 18, 2:40 PM
    • 18 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    Fast_ted
    Hi Penny,


    But in your example if you signed the contract, carried out the work and took the money for the works wouldn't this imply there is a contract? If you just took the money and that was that then it would be a criminal case.


    I am seeking legal advice but wan't to get it clear in my head before I start shelling out more money. I am also getting some assistance from law students as my local university but they are currently on holiday and not back until later this month. It certainly is complex and the false company name, alias etc make it very muddy!
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 10th Aug 18, 3:17 PM
    • 2,567 Posts
    • 1,402 Thanks
    the_r_sole
    Hi Penny,


    But in your example if you signed the contract, carried out the work and took the money for the works wouldn't this imply there is a contract? If you just took the money and that was that then it would be a criminal case.


    I am seeking legal advice but wan't to get it clear in my head before I start shelling out more money. I am also getting some assistance from law students as my local university but they are currently on holiday and not back until later this month. It certainly is complex and the false company name, alias etc make it very muddy!
    Originally posted by Fast_ted
    Don't bother with getting free legal advice from students - you need professional legal advice for something as complex as this, doing anything else is just wasting time with if's, but's and maybe's
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 10th Aug 18, 3:32 PM
    • 6,098 Posts
    • 16,023 Thanks
    EachPenny
    But in your example if you signed the contract, carried out the work and took the money for the works wouldn't this imply there is a contract? If you just took the money and that was that then it would be a criminal case.
    Originally posted by Fast_ted
    This is where it gets complicated and you are into very grey areas. The question is what was the intent of both parties in entering into a contract. You say your intent was to contract with company A (the one which never existed), and not the individual, a judge might ask you why you signed a contract with company A if you believed/expected to be employing an individual. The builder will say his intent was for company B to enter into a contract with you, but in error he put the wrong details of company A on the documents. I suspect to hold him personally liable you'd need to show that the intention was for you to contract with him as an individual.

    In one of the common phone scams, someone claiming to work for 'Microsoft' calls you to 'help' you with a virus. During the call you get sold a software package which you give your bank details to pay for. Arguably in the process there is an offer, acceptance, and a consideration... but few people would consider this to be a valid contract under which you would have any rights to seek redress for non-performance. It is a scam, pure and simple. The difference in your case is you know (or believe you do) the person who was scamming you, and you got some dodgy building work done rather than having your computer infected by dodgy software.

    Perhaps this discussion about the contract is obscuring another point - that if he intentionally misled you then he might have a personal civil liability to you (i.e. not that you have an enforceable building contract with him, but through his deliberate actions you have suffered a financial loss).

    Something else to consider is that if he has years of experience of doing this kind of thing, and has previously gone bankrupt, then he may well know all the tricks in the book and will find other ways of never paying you a penny. You might need to reflect on your chances of getting anything out of him before parting with too much more money. I also have to add that you may need to take into account his character, and whether he is the kind of person which means it would be better to chalk up the whole episode to experience rather than risk him (or his friends) coming round to 'negotiate' with you.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 10th Aug 18, 3:55 PM
    • 1,176 Posts
    • 843 Thanks
    teneighty
    MCOL is Money Claim Online, it is the new name for small claims.

    Don't get too bogged down in the contract details, the test is actually very simple...."whether a reasonable bystander after taking into account the circumstances, thinks that the parties intended to be bound"

    The burden of proof is only balance of probability.

    And with any commercial activity such as this the presumption is that a valid contract exists so the defendant would have to demonstrate why he thinks a contract doesn't exist. Bit difficult if he has already built the extension.

    From what you have said I would say you have a very strong claim.

    I went through something very similar last year with a very slippery serial fraudster and the judge was having none of his spurious attempts to shift responsibility. You just need to present your evidence in a clear concise manner. Linking names with aliases is slightly more tricky but it is all about evidence, get statements from people who know him, electoral register, land registry, copies of bank payments and account details etc. but fundamentally it is you stating Mr "X" is also known as Mr "Y". The format for witness statements is very specific so look that up.

    I suspect people like this are not half as clever as they think they are and work on the basis that most people just won't bother to actually take it to court and even if they do and win then it doesn't take much to beat the Bailiffs and High Court Enforcement goons. But if you are tenacious and go for a nice easy fixed asset such as his house then it's got to be worth a go.
    Last edited by teneighty; 10-08-2018 at 4:00 PM.
    • DaftyDuck
    • By DaftyDuck 10th Aug 18, 4:35 PM
    • 4,244 Posts
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    DaftyDuck
    Don't bring up the VAT side yet.... Inland Revenue get priority claim on everything. If he ends up with just enough assets to pay them, there may be nothing left for you.

    Stick that on a back burner for now, save it for revenge, or a pressure point.

    I am fascinated by this.... note, I have zero legal understanding of anything, but it's an interesting (infuriating for you) scenario!
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