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Thomas
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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We sold our house through a solicitor and signed an initial

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We sold our house through a solicitor and signed an initial contract to owe them 1.1% plus VAT. Their service was shocking and after exchange of contracts we began complaining suggesting we pay them less. After a number of emails back and forth the estate agent said that we still owed them 1% plus VAT. Given we were not getting anywhere with our negotiations, we took their mistake on the percentage as an opportunity to pay less. We wrote them an email saying we would pay them the 1% plus VAT pointing out clearly to them that this was not the figure as in the contract and was a mistake that further confirmed to us their incompetence. The estate agent wrote back saying that they would accept 1% plus VAT on completion date and ended their email saying there were sorry it had ended like this and wishing us luck in the future. We thought the matter was ended but 2 weeks post completion we received an email saying we still owed them the shortfall of the 0.1% plus VAT and that the email they sent to us saying they would accept the lesser amount was a mistake! ON top of this, they are now saying that because it is now over 10 days since completion if we do not pay the shortfall in 10 days our fee will revert to 2% plus VAT (as per the original contract if you do not pay in 10 days post completion).
I have 2 main questions. Firstly can their email accepting the 1% be taken as a new contract and hence make the original contract out of date? Also now we are in dispute, can they really threaten us with the 2% given they waited for longer than 10 days post completion to say they wanted more money? We thought the matter was settled.
Your advice would be greatly appreciated as we are loathe to pay the extra 0.1% but worried about the extra 0.9% they are threatening us with.

I tried to insert the emails but there is not enough text. How can I send this information?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Just to confirm:-

1. Did you sign a contract with the agent which stated that you would pay 1.1% of the sale price (plus VAT)

2. Did they agree (after email correspondence) that they would accept 1% in settlement of their fee?

3. Does the original contract state 2% if paid after 10 days of completion?


Tom



Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello,


 


1) We did sign a contract with the agent which stated that we would pay 1.1% of the sale price.Can I email it to you?



2) I then wrote the email below and the agents response is underneath my email. I've put this information in the optional information. Can I send it as an email it may be easier to read


 


RE: 6 Earlston GroveFriday, 18 January, 2013 18:17


From: This sender is DomainKeys verified."RAJIVE" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>View contact details


To: "James" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>


Cc: "Philip" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>


Good evening James,



To begin, we raised our concerns regarding how unprofessional Sovereign were handling the sales process back in August when my wife spoke to you on the phone on 23rd August and insisted on talking to the buyer directly. This combined with the fact you have not had any involvement with ourselves or the buyer since this time means our complaints should not come as a huge surprise.



For a company which supposedly prides itself on its customer service it seems odd that you are not happy to listen to a customer’s grievances and negotiate a fair fee for the service given.



In light of your unwillingness to end the relationship in a positive way, we see two ways forward.



Firstly we revert to our Solicitors, the Office of Fair Trading and The Property Ombudsman and pursue our complaints in a formal way or, secondly to close the matter and avoid any further time commitment from ourselves following this up and airing our dissatisfaction with your service on the internet, we compromise on our original fee proposal and agree to pay Sovereign 1% plus VAT as confirmed as expected by you in the email you sent at Friday, 18 January, 2013 10:57. The fact that this fee is different to the one on our contract only proves to us your lack of professionalism.



Please let us know which route you would like us to proceed with.



Regards


Rajive


 


The estate agent wrote back saying that they would accept 1% plus VAT on completion date and ended their email saying there were sorry it had ended like this and wishing us luck in the future, please see below;


 


 


6 Earlston GroveSaturday, 19 January, 2013 11:33


From: "James" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>Add sender to Contacts


To: "RAJIVE" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>


Cc: "Philip" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>


Rajive,





It is unfortunate how this has ended, however I would like to congratulate both Laila and yourself again on the sale of 6 Earlston Grove and wish you all the best for the future.



Kind regards,


James Blackiston




3) The contract states;



Fees are payable by the Client If at any time a buyer (Including an existing or previous tenant If applicable)
Introduced by Sovereign House Estates ltd. exchanges contracts unconditionally. Such fees become due at exchange of
contracts and are to be paid out of the completion monies within ten days of legal completion. Any fees paid after ten days
of legal completion will be Increased to the non-discounted rate in paragraph 4.


 


Is there a way to send you the contract, its two side of A4?


 


thanks


Rajive


 


Expert:  Thomas replied 1 year ago.
Hi Rajive,

This is a general advice website. Not a specific one. If you wish for a lawyer to go through specific documents then you should instruct them in the normal way.

I can give you my general opinion on the matter if you wish to proceed.

If you do can you please tell me:-

1. the date of completion
2. the date you paid the 1% fee
3. What does paragraph 4 say, 2%?

Tom
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello Tom,


 


1. The date of Completion was the 25th January 2013


 


2. The 1% fee was paid on the 25th January 2013


 


3. I've typed para 4 and 5 because there is reference to the 2% at the end of para 5. Also in para 4 after "Non discounted rate is ..." there is a box with 2 handwritten in it and then it has been crossed out. In para 5 "Discounted rate is..." the 1.1 is handwritten.


 


4) Non discounted rate is 2% + VAT of the price agreed at exchange of contracts or £ + VAT
5) Discounted rate is 1.1 % + VAT of the price agreed at exchange of contracts or£ + VAT.
Discount Is conditional upon settlement within ten days of legal completion, after which the fee reverts to our non-discounted rate as stated in paragraph 4.

Expert:  Thomas replied 1 year ago.
Ok.

What date was their invoice issued and what amount did it say?

Tom
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello Tom,


 


They sent the original invoice to the solicitor who handled the conveyance for us, I do not know when i'm afraid


 


After the reduced fee had been agreed via email I asked the solicitor at the time if they expected to receive a further invoice from the estate agent stating the new fee of 1% and i have just spoken to the solicitor and she confirms they did not receive a further invoice from the estate agent requesting the reduced amount. I emailed the solicitor the email below to inform them of the reduced fee;


 


 


6 Earlston GroveSaturday, 19 January, 2013 11:33


From: "James" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>Add sender to Contacts


To: "RAJIVE" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>


Cc: "Philip" <XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX>


Rajive,





It is unfortunate how this has ended, however I would like to congratulate both Laila and yourself again on the sale of 6 Earlston Grove and wish you all the best for the future.



Kind regards,


James Blackiston


Branch Manager


Sovereign House Estates Ltd


XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX

Expert:  Thomas replied 1 year ago.
Hi

Thanks for your patience.

If the email was from the member of the agency that you have dealing with and confirmed that the amount payable on completion would be 1% then if I were you I would argue that this effectively amounted to a variation of the contract rate to 1% on completion.

You have then paid this re-arranged amount, so if this argument were accepted then there is no breach of contract and therefore no further fees to be paid.

If before you settled their fees they did not inform you that their position had changed and that they would only accept the original contract rate of 1.1% then I should think that you are on fairly safe ground in resisting the claim for late payment. As you say, you have not been informed of their change following the email so you were not put on notice.

Ideally you would have a re-issued invoice in respect of the reduced fee and that would be the end of it. As it stands you are relying on the email, which a reasonably decent position to start but they will argue that the variation is only complete once they have issued their revised invoice.

If the passage referring to late payment of fees actually reads “Any fees paid after ten days of legal completion will be Increased to the non-discounted rate in paragraph 4.” then it’s terribly drafted and potentially unenforceable because of it.

The way I see it you have two options
1) Be specific and tell them that you consider that they have breach the contract by not providing their service with a reasonable skill under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and with any other terms of the actual contract that they have breached. Use examples and state that you will defend/counter claim in the event that they attempt to recover any further monies from you. You would have to be prepared to litigate, but then you may get lucky, not have to litigate or pay any more money.
2) Pay the balance of the fees to make up to 1.1% simply to be done with it. I’d be VERY surprised if they attempted to claim the increased amount having regard to the email

It depends what you can stomach really; payment of fees that you do not consider due OR the potential for litigation.

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If you wish for me to provide you with further guidance on any question you may have in the future then please submit a further question to the board requesting me either by my profile or by marking your question. “FAO Tom”.

Kind regards,


Tom
Thomas, Lawyer
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