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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Hi, in brief for 12 years I rented a school rooms invoices

Customer Question

Hi, in brief for 12 years I rented a school rooms invoices were raised at the beginning of each term & paid by me at the end of the term for days used. This is due to school closures, snow days strikes etc. In set 2011 new head was appointed and by Oct 2011 she requested the full invoice. I paid the amount used in December 2011 which was £700 less than invoice.
The school during December informed me they were to knock down our building
and informed all pupils parents ( my clients by letter) an hour later. This letter in turn prematurely ended my business before our eviction date.
The school have written requesting 2 outstanding bill . Sept to Dec and jan to feb.
I have recently written to them and stated that I have enclosed a cheque for £220 as full and final payment. This was received 1st July and cashed the 2 nd July. Today I have received a letter stating they are going to persue court action .
I didn't write on the cheque but the letter stated clearly .
What are your suggestions as the business ended Feb 2012 .
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

I'm very sorry for the delay you have experienced

Can you tell me what you wanted to know about this please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi and thank you for your reply

The school have written to me yesterday stating the folloeing.
"I write to formally acknowledge receipt of your cheque in the sum of £220.66. A Wimborne First School receipt is enclosed. ( this was a compliment slip not numbered county council receipt)
The governors of WFS still hold to the position that monies are outstanding in respect of premises rental. The initial steps have now been completed to allow the school to take formal court action to recover the monies owed and in the next few days will consider taking that step

In the meantime the offer to discuss the matter further with Governors is still open and I ask you carefully consider doing so before legal action is commenced. "

My question is can they cash a full and final cheque (cashed 2/7/13) and then still pursue court action 12 days later?
. Should I request the cheque returned if not accepted as full and final payment ?
What can I do if anything

I have contacted my local education councillor who is mortified by
the wording in the deluge of letters I have recently received so ce June 2012.
It has been brought to my attention that the gentleman "Acting on behalf of WFS governors" is ex police inspect and possi ly enjoys communication g I. an aggressive manner" and perhaps they are just words
I am keen to settle this matter as it has cost me my business, my home so far let alone time and energy. I am to date completely paid up for all rentals having used the same payment procedure of 12 years.
I really dont want to meet this man for a meeting if can be helped as he makes me very uncomfortable.

Regards
Traynor
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
This isn't really my area then but I've passed it onto somebody who can help for you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Jomo1972
Thank you
Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.




I have been asked
to look at this for you.

Let me clarify. It
was standard procedure for the school to issue you invoices for blocks of room
hire.



You would simply
send them a cheque for the actual days that you use the rooms, which was always
less than the invoice?



Approximately how
much were the invoices and approximately how much did you pay each time? To the
nearest hundred pounds or £200 is close enough. I am trying to get the scale of
this.



I need to know why
they invoice for blocks of days but you only paid for a few days.



How much notice did
it in effect to give you that you could no longer rent the building? Did this
cause any problems? Any financial loss?



Did anyone else use
it?



How much did you
use it in comparison to anyone else?



How much do they
allege that you owe?



This might sound an
odd question but I will explain why I am asking later, was this cheque on your
account or from somebody else's account?



Have the school
come back to you since you have explained the last 12 years procedure? Do you
have proof of that?



I will tell you
that, at this stage, I think we can probably deal with this in a satisfactory
manner. Please bear with me today because we are all more years in practice and
I am online and off-line.



Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for your reply

The payment procedure of the past 12 years has been the school would invoice me for a number of "days" no dates were ever issued.
Due to school having snow days, charity days, being on strike or utilising a loop hole in education where the school closes at the end of each term at 1 pm.
All the above impacted on us as an after school club. The above closures would be relayed to parents at the most half termly at shortest 2 hours .
Our parents booked half termly 6 wks ahead ( most were on tax credits and the payments of these benefits would not allow for 12 wks ahead .

At the end of the term I would deduct days or on one occasion 2003 add days and pay the cheque accordingly.

The differences I have currently evidence of run from £ 50 to £ 200.
Rarely did the full amount of invoices get paid perhaps only once or twice.
The fees for renting 3 rooms ran from £10 a day to £20 a day. The days were from 7.45 to 8.50 am before school and 3 to 6pm after school.
In 2002 a letting agreement was signed by myself and the governors to rent 3 rooms. The chalet ( at the time an unused/ unusable portable classroom) the "spare" classroom and when available the hall
I paid for the chalet to be brought to a usable state and agreed with the head teacher of the time to only use this room so as I felt it was good for the children to not feel " in school" . To maintain use if needed the other rooms.
The school only recently in 2009 requested using the building in the day for reading. This I agreed with so long as it was vacant by 3 pm for our session.
This niggled the new head who promptly called a new letting agreement meeting. Requesting I clear away my room daily, don't have use of spare class room etc or the playground if school needed for their new after school clubs that would be free to parents.
Obviously I refused to sign the agreement as that was have less pay more.

They allege I owe an outstanding £700 from Sept to Decmber as the received £600+ payment for used days and £250 or so as they have cashed my recent cheque of £220 for used days Jan to feb 5 th.

I was given 14 weeks notice of eviction parents/ my clients received a letter stating I was being evicted April 1 st 2012 on 8 December 2011a week before end of term
This letter reduced our jan bookings from 12 to 5 children and dwindling.
So we had to give early notice as funds wouldn't be available to pay.
The school have denied the letter even though I have parents who remember it and I wrote to parents about it.
The business closed and had huge impact as 2 staff became unemployed
The school caretaker lived behind me the children I had left
(5) came to my house as I am a childminder ( I actually didn't work at the school club) the school staff member complained to my landlord he didnt like the childrens noise my landlord revoked my permission to Childmind which lead me having to move too.

I wrote a cheque from my account.
I have a file of letters sent from me highlighting payment procedures of past 12 years
Copies of all paperwork.

Hope this helps
Debs
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For extra information - the business was non profit making
I didn't take a wage from it as it was a community setting
Used as a placement to train Young/older people keen to qualify in Childcare and local people to use as a wrap around Childcare setting so they could work, train take respite.
The school in 2009 opened a before school club in direct competition to me from 8.30 to 8.50 for 50p a session where I opened 7.45 to 8.50 for £2.50 To cover rent and staff I did question the school for doing this at the time the head teacher said competition is good.
About me
I am a qualified registered childminder and in the past have worked
For local authority as a safeguarding trainer and children's events organiser. I hadn't worked at the after school clubs for 5 years other than to cover staff sickness/ holidays.
Im not surd if relevant but - The school were informed in 2010 the clubs name would be changing due to my GP taking photos of me in his surgery in my work uniform. He then uploaded them stole my identity and created Facebook page with very sexualised content associated to it. My GP made national news and was struck off. OFSTED were informed and suggested I changed the clubs name, uniforms paperwork etc, as the police were unable to delete this profile. This was to minimise impact on me whilst dorset police investigated.
The school insisted on naming, invoicing the old club name even using it on their website until December 2011.
The school in question refused to allow me to use the other rooms I have paid for but suggested I use the local scout hall of which the head of school governors was a leader and his wife who ran school nursery school was the secretary . All proposals for my using the scout hall were to be sent to his wife at the school.
I have recently been alerted that the school are opening an after school club.

Thanks
Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.




Thank you.

It seems very odd
way of working, to be invoiced upfront and then for you to manually make the changes.
The correct way of doing it, if they want to invoice upfront, is for them to
issue a credit note for the non-used days and for you to pay the balance.



To be frank, based
upon these facts, whilst their invoice is in respect of all the possible days
that you could have been there, because of the various closure etc I would tell
them that the payment they have represents all the days which you occupied the
building did they do issue proceedings, you will defend them on that basis. Tell
them that you have extremely accurate detail records going back over 12 years
which you will produce to the court.



This is one of
those may have to decide for you. Tell them not to write to you again but
either issue proceedings in the Small Claims Court or leave you alone.





I appreciate that you did not know that this was going to
become a problem but if you had suspected it, and you had asked the question on
here about how to deal with the part payment to make sure that it did not come
up and bite you, I could have answered you. In
cases like this, I never suggest making an offer. I suggest sending a cheque.
Armed with a cheque in the hand for some of the amount they want, compared to
an argument over the whole of the amount, (and arguments that they may win or
lose) the cheque in the hand is a pretty powerful incentive to accept it.



So, whenever
this crops up in future, consider deciding how much you would like to pay the
(you need to make it attractive enough) and send it with a covering letter
headed "without prejudice save as to costs". That means that they cannot
produce the letter in court as any proof that you admit owing them any money at
all.



Tell
them in the letter that you are offering this money in full and final settlement
of all claims against you, past, present and future, and that by cashing it
they accept it as such. Tell them that if they do not accept it, they should
return the cheque to you and if they issue legal proceedings, you will defend
them on the basis of A, B, C, whatever.



Tell
them that if they do not understand the significance of the letter. They should
take independent legal advice.



I
can tell you this approach works nine times out of 10, provided the offer is
reasonable and not derisory.



 





For legal reasons which I will not bore you with but which
go back several hundred years, the cheque must not come from you, but was come
from a third party, friend, relative, solicitor, our accountant, neighbour,
girlfriend, wife, husband, whoever, just not from you.



Here is some rather heavy reading http://www.voltimum.co.uk/news/2312/cm/the-law----full-and-final-settlement-.html



 



to answer the
question about whether they can cash the cheque as a part payment, yes they can
and there is case law (lots of case law) on just that. The principle is that
part payment is not sufficient consideration to forego the balance.



There are ways around
it which are in the scenario I gave you earlier.



Does
that answer the question? Can I help further? Can I answer any specific points?



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