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Unresolved Issues Cannot Justify Refusal to Pay

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

A barrister who took exception to the quality of building work he had commissioned found that the Court of Appeal did not agree with his contention that he should not pay a £35,000 retention.

The barrister and his wife had an extension built to their mews house and, as is usual, when it was completed there was a list of ‘snags’ which needed to be rectified.

The couple claimed that not all of the snags had been dealt with and that they were therefore under no obligation to pay the builder’s account until such time as they had all been satisfactorily resolved.

The Court concluded that the contract with the builder could not be interpreted as the barrister alleged and that the builder’s bill was payable, subject to any set-off for unresolved items on the snag list.

The case has now been sent back to the County Court for the appropriate sum to be determined.

The costs of arguing the point all the way to the Court of Appeal may well exceed the payment due to the builder. In many such cases, there is considerable benefit to be gained from not allowing a matter to reach court, as this often turns out to be an expensive lesson for one or, in some cases, both parties to the argument.

If you are faced with a similar situation, we can help you resolve the issues and reach a negotiated agreement.

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