To comply with a claim that has been made against you, or even if you are the party sending a letter of claim, can be an arduous task. Especially if it is in respect of a claim relating to construction work. The reality is that you have to conform to the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes.
A letter of response will have to afford the other party the same courtesy when dealing with any claims against you and you are expected to both sit down and try to mediate through the dispute. It is important to note that a letter of this regard is a process that has been forced on the parties because of a breakdown in communication or failure to pay for works that were completed.
It may be that you have been dissatisfied with works undertaken on your house, or you could be the contractor that is dealing with a customer that is ‘trying it on’ to avoid paying. Either way, it is a requirement from the protocol that you must sit down and try to resolve whether through an approved mediator or through solicitors so that both parties are satisfied.
It is important to note that the letter must include detail of the issues, any statutory application, a copy of any agreement that was made in writing, invoices of works completed and any email communication on matters agreed by this method. You must also, where applicable, include a Scott Schedule. A Scott Schedules are where the individual elements of a claim have been set out in a table or spreadsheet so that the full list of issues and costs can be seen clearly by a judge.
This can be time consuming but necessary. It will also be important to keep a log of everything from the inception of the instruction to the dispute developing and then the dispute crystallising. All correspondence between the parties will likely include all documents that will be relied on even if they are not disclosed immediately. Note that it is also important to ensure that any documents in your possession whether they are to your detriment or of course to your advantage, must be kept safe and not disposed of. Usually, if you instruct a solicitor to act for you in the dispute, they will include this on one of their letters to the other side so that it is clear.
If you are expecting to go all the way and court proceedings are necessary, it is important to consider who you will rely on at court such as witnesses. It may be that you will rely on quotes from other contractors or will need an exert report conducted to ascertain the damage or extent of the poor workmanship including safety concerns.
It is a long road ahead if you are sadly in this situation, but perseverance and patience will prevail. Always have in your mind that you wish to resolve without court though, as that is what a judge will expect, even if deep down you want your day in court.
Call us anytime to discuss further and we will see how we can help or even signpost you if this is necessary. You will not be charged for a chat on the phone and initial advice.