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Small claims court via solicitor?

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disco_monkey79

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Hi

A brief precis - I recently bought a place, with the usual "vacant possession" requirements. The seller left 4 sheds and a loft crammed with cr@p. I obtained written (emailed) confirmation via their solicitors that I would be reimbursed for the cost of clearing it.

I paid out for a skip but their promised cheque has failed to arrive, and I am now being ignored by the estate agent and the seller's solicitor.

4 months down the line, my patience is at an end and so want to open small claims proceedings, BUT... I don't have their new address, and no-one will give it to me. Has anyone been in this position, and Is it possible to use their solicitor's address, like a "care of"?

Thanks
 

sammy.se

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Hi,

Just a thought, have you asked your own solicitor (that you used for the purchase) for their advice on this?

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
 

pcb1962

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In my experience it's only worth going to court if you are sure there's a strong likelihood that the defendant will pay up when you get judgement against them. I've won twice in the small claims court and never received a penny either time.
 

disco_monkey79

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No - I wouldn't ask my solicitor for so much as the the time of day. They were worse than useless, and I wish only bad things for them.

I recognize I may be chucking good money after bad, but it's only £25 to submit online, and I know she has money (as I recently gave her rather a lot of it). However, it's all moot without an address.

Ta
 

Chrispy

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Have the post office got a mail redirect in place for them? If so either pop in to your local sorting office or could you address it to them at your address ie their old address?
 

owen

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For the cost of a skip just take it on the chin, and next time insist the house is cleared before you complete on the purchase.
 

Jake

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Not my area but check the contract, there may be a provision in the terms and conditions which allows service on their solicitor, I would be surprised if there wasn't.
 

RogerS

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Jake":2tyvtyjz said:
Not my area but check the contract, there may be a provision in the terms and conditions which allows service on their solicitor, I would be surprised if there wasn't.
My commiserations. Oh, I do hope so. Solicitors are not my favourite 'profession' at the moment. Jake's a lawyer - he's OK.
 

Blackswanwood

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The Law Society Standard Conditions of sale do make provision for documents to be served via the conveyancer.
 

AJB Temple

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I no longer practice law. This is not advice.

I doubt writing to the solicitor will achieve anything. There was nothing wrong with the conveyance. You can ask them to forward but they have no obligation to do so. But you have nothing to lose and I would tell them that you are using their office as the last known correspondence address of the debtor. The reason for this will become clear shortly.

Courts (including on-line) expect you to submit a letter before action to the debtor, setting out your case briefly before issuing proceedings. Just issue this to the last known address - it is not your problem that the debtor has arranged no forwarding. Keep it very short - courts don't give a toss.

Give a reasonable time for them (debtor) to pay or respond. 14 days.

Then issue proceedings on-line. If the debtor does not respond the court will find against them.

This only helps if you can enforce. However, if you have a judgement in your favour (make sure this is NOT registered at your new address) then eventually they will surface and you can get attachment of earnings or bailiff enforcement.

The online process has a big backlog and takes ages, but is easy and cheap.

Make sure you have bills to substantiate your claim and attach them to claim.

Point out to debtor that this will affect their credit record.

It is not hard to trace people. Only really an issue if they have moved abroad or are homeless.
 

Richard_C

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I started this before the last post (above) came in but its a similar suggestion.

Make it appear harder/riskier to not pay than to pay. Be a nuisance. Much like some of the advice above suggesting just forget it, hope the vendor gets advice from their friends to just pay it. Its worth one go at least even if you give up after that - which I suspect I would do eventually for the sums involved.


You say that the vendors solicitor emailed to say that you would be reimbursed, so you can make a case that in so doing they were acting as agent for the vendor. Write to them, the solicitors/conveyancers, a proper last chance letter with a stamp or drop it in if they are close.

Headed:

Letter Before Action

Property xxxx vendor...completion date

I am writing concerning your clients failure to clear the property on completion and the reimbursement of consequential costs agreed in your email dated xxxxx. I have not received the payment.

Please advise your client that if I do not receive payment by (x days after they get the letter) I will be taking action to recover the sums involved. I intend to add to my claim a sum to reflect the time involved in clearing the sheds and roof space, my time in pursuing the matter and of course my legal costs in recovering the monies due.

I am sure that your client would prefer to avoid these additional costs and the risk to their credit rating if it becomes a County Court matter. As you know, at this stage I am simply seeking reimbursement of my actual outgoings for skip hire.

I look forward to hearing from you by return with an explanation of why I have not been paid and confirmation that you have raised the matter with your client **. I also look forward to receiving the payment of £ yyy.yy on or before the end of business on xxxxx.

....

Costs you a stamp, gives them a chance, and you don't have to do anything or spend anything more if you decide not to. Nothing lost. If the vendors conveyancer choose to ignore it they put themselves at risk of the vendor having a go at them for their failure to pass on the demand thus increasing their costs. The sentence ** is useful, if they confirm either then they accept that they are in contact with the vendor and you can use that as leverage if you do need to take it further.
 

Rorschach

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Really good advice above. Totally worth writing a letter at the very least. Make sure you send it recorded delivery! I would also email the same as you might find it easier to get a response and open a dialogue there.
 

Jake

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I had a similar personal issue when I bought the house I sit in now - an agreement that white goods would left in exchange for a price shiv, but white goods were taken away, loads of stuff left around, so skip cost. Wrote an stiff letter threatening proceedings and detailing and enclosing proof of costs to the seller's conveyancer, got a check in post.

Just write calmly but forensically. There is no question the monies are due. You are just saying there was a breach, the costs are X Y Z and I will be serving proceedings if I am not paid them in [14] days. I attach receipts for the sums due. Please pass this letter to your client and consider it a letter before action.
 

Mark Hancock

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I've had experienece of small claim court over a number of years and agree with most of the above advice. But as I see it the sticking point is actually having an address for the defendant. Getting a judgement is all well and good but can't be enforced if you don't have an address. Balliiffs will only act on an address you give them. If the plaintiff is not there they will not search themselves to find another address. Similarly with attachment of earnings; if you don't know the defendant's employer it's hard to enforce. If it is still available "oval examination " is more effective if judgement is obtained. This involves the defendant appearing before the court and answering questions about their financial position. Failure to comply to appear results in a warrant being issued. In my case this brought the toerag out of hiding and I received the money owed. :D
 

disco_monkey79

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Thanks all for taking to the time to reply. I'll stick a letter in the post and see if it gets re-directed, and go from there.

Thanks again
 

AJB Temple

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Just to add about tracing. If you have someone suitably connected as a friend, there are tracing services used by banks and solicitors for anti money laundering and id checks as well as CCJs etc. These paid for services (I think we pay about 70p per enquiry - but we have a bulk subscription service) access a large number of databases and you probably have enough information to trace. It is quite hard these days to go fully off grid.
 

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