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JS,JD, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 70
Experience:  35 years' experience providing effective legal advice to profit-driven businesses.
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I have sent a client an invoice for their IT support renewal

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I have sent a client an invoice for their IT support renewal which automatically renewed on the 1st December. Our contract states: 'This Agreement shall have an initial term of one year from the Activation Date and shall continue in effect for yearly terms thereafter, until terminated by written notice received by either party from the other at least 90 days prior to an anniversary of the Activation Date.' I chased payment for the renewal as the client did not cancel. When I sent them the email to chase they asked who has actually asked for the contract to be renewed, as they no longer require our services. I replied to say that they have automatically renewed as per the contract that they signed states that unless they give us written notice at least 3 months prior to the end of the contract this renews. Later in the day then then send an email saying: 'Regardless of the terms and conditions, we did not ask to renew the agreement for the next 12 months (which starts 1/12/10) because Stuart Pedley wrote a complaining letter to your company in April 2010 which he has still not received a response. Stuart complained about the service and attitude when chasing money.
The invoice you claim is outstanding is for the month of December, which is no longer required. We have also written a confirmation letter to cancel this service agreement previously. We will send a copy for your records.' We never received a cancellation letter and I think that they will now send one and say this was sent in time to cancel. This is clear as at first they said that they didn't require our services and did not mention that they had already cancelled until i mentioned that they needed to inform us in writing. What is our position here as i know they didn't cancel in writing and regardless of the service we have provided (which in any case has been good and we have rectified all their issues) the contract states that the service continues for the following year at the costs stated.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  JS,JD replied 5 years ago.
Greetings. Unfortunately, there is little you can do other than sue them for a full year's fee. I don't know how much money is involved here, but obviously, if it's not more than, say GBP20,000 (depending on how much the other side is willing to spend), it might not be worth your time and money to pursue it. Lesson: written contracts are more valuable as guides to performance when both parties are trying to perform in good faith but may have minor disagreements as to what was agreed, than they are as foundations to force a recalcitrant party to perform. Litigation is always risky, and in this case a trier of fact might be hoodwinked by the fraudulent evidence you expect them to produce, or take the position that Pedley's communications with you did in fact constitute notice. You should start by writing (or better, having a solicitor write) a careful demand letter in which you state your company's willingness to perform, point out exactly how you have taken care of all prior complaints, and inform them that unless either they state in writing that the contract remains in full force and effect and accompany said statement with payment of fees through the month following the date of their statement or provide payment in full for the full year of services they don't want, you will bring suit for the year's fee. If they still say no, offer a settlement and negotiate. You could then also suggest mediation, which is relatively cheap and even not legally binding often produces a result. Good luck. If this has satisfactorily answered your question, please click on Accept and provide any appropriate Feedback. Thanks.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I don't quite understand, can you clarify. Is it the case that if they say they gave notice but we didn't actually receive the letter would a court take it that they did notify us and therefore the contract was cancelled. This is only for £600 and we normally go through MCOL so would not involve solicitors.
Expert:  JS,JD replied 5 years ago.
I did not say that a court would agree with fraudulent evidence that you suspect the defendant might produce; I said the court might agree. Unfortunately, courts are often defrauded by crooked litigants. Bear in mind that the quantum of evidence necessary to support a civil verdict is just 51% - nothing need be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, you would offer two pieces of evidence to rebut their claim that they mailed a termination letter in timely fashion: the company's business record of incoming communications (which would show no entry for the alleged letter), and the testimony of whatever company employee or officer is in charge of maintaining that record. There is a legal presumption that business records kept in the ordinary course are correct; there is also a presumption that a letter placed in the mails is properly delivered. The court would have to find that it is just slightly more probable that your records are accurate than that HM postal service failed in its job. Obviously, it would be easy for the court to side with you on that issue. The court would then have to agree with you that a reasonable person in your position would not have interpreted Pedley's communications with you as timely notice of termination (assuming that the defendant makes such a claim). You could well win. My suggestion about a solicitor had to do with writing the demand letter (which you should do even if you will go through MCOL), not with the litigation itself. But if the amount at issue is "only" GBP600, write it yourself. Good luck. I hope this answers your question. -- One last suggestion: you might consider changing your customer service policy, so that when you receive a complaint and respond to it, you ask the customer politely to acknowledge, in writing, that its complaint has been completely dealt with and that the customer is satisfied with the service you are providing.
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