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Thomas Judge
Thomas Judge, Solicitor Advocate
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Award winning lawyer with over 15 years experience
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I am an independent consultant/contractor architectural designer.

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I am an independent consultant/contractor architectural designer. A client and I had a verbal agreement whereby I advised him to allocate a certain budget to a project. He wanted to use my contacts, especially the builders I work with, as he had received a previous quotation that he felt was too high. I was told what that was and after many months of attempting to have him agree to allowing me to develop the details of the project such that it could be priced accurately, he refused, preferring to use his "concept design" as the only thing to work from. As he was a friend, I helped by developing the "concept design" enough to obtain a quotation from a sub-contractor (known to the contractor I work with regularly) and duly passed it on to my client/friend. I then prepared a list of the design team/consultants (my contacts) and my builder prepared a list of "allowances" itemised on a "Cost Estimate." This was all done via email and the client/friend never agreed to any of it. After a few weeks, we met personally and face to face I told him that he had to allocate a budget that was considerably less than the one he had obtained his first quotation and he agreed. We then exchanged many emails regarding the pre-project set up and start dates, and indeed started on site with the sub-contractor and my builder managing the sub-contractor. I proceeded to draw up details and layouts to facilitate the works (which were restricted to external landscaping) and the client was happy. There was one glitch. Despite having asked in writing for the client to arrange all necessary permissions required for the property enclave, the contractors were met with unreasonable restrictions and we were forced to "re-design" the methodology for the works. The cost estimate that this sub-contractor gave was clearly itemised and with the new change of methodology, it was not as straightforward to price. The result was that the main contractor agreed to day rates from the sub-contractor with a cap. This cap was not exceeded and 80% of the works were completed. Since the budget agreed contained a sizeable contingency as well as my professional fees that are normally a percentage of the construction cost, but can adjust, everyone was happy. The client took no interest in the details of the job and was away for most of it. However, after a major financial transaction that he was working on fell through, he suddenly changed his mind. Within 4 days he fired everyone and made a deal on his own with the sub-contractor cutting my builder and of course myself out of the whole affair. His claim was that he had never agreed with me a budget and that the only price he had received was this "cost Estimate" that was forwarded to him with one itemised cost estimate and 5 itemised allowances. His manner became extremely aggressive, intimidating and he threatened me with legal action in a sum of 6 emails as well as accusing me of escalating costs and incompetence. The bizarre thing is that to date he had only paid half of what the cost estimate itemised directly to the sub-contractor and neither my builder nor myself had received any payment, nor had we issued invoices. It seemed that he simply wanted to cut us out to lower his cost. We were happy to walk away, as his aggressive and irrational behaviour made us very uncomfortable. Needless to say, the personal side of our supposed friendship was dragged into it and used against me. He was sexist and offensive in no less than 2 emails sent to my builder with whom I have a professional relationship. He withdrew his threat against me of legal action and now has threatened my builder. He has also, recently offered to work it out amicably, but has written to my builder that he will do so, only if my builder foregoes any loyalty to me. I suspect, he will want my builder to testify against me in some shape or form. I know that in actual fact, this is a case of some kind of irrational over reaction but the point is there is no contract. He has a lot of money behind him and he can ruin a small business for sport. He is a very vindictive person and already sued his own sister in the High Court to prove a point and enjoyed the publicity. He fired everyone who was competently carrying out works (although it is unclear if the sub-contractor is still onsite as they aren't available to my builder for further comment, probably having double-crossed him) and he himself is not qualified to manage the works, and if he does, with problems, he claims he will sue me for damages due to "financial loss". Is this all madness or does he have some kind of protection in the law?
Thank you
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Thomas Judge replied 7 months ago.
Thanks for your question. Please remember to click ACCEPT once you get my answer.

From what you have written there may well be an argument that there was a verbal contract between the two of you or indeed for you to work as his agent in this matter, it does however rather appear that if any party has breached the contract then it looks like it is him rather than yourself. I would be minded either to walk away from this fully in the hope that this dies down or go and see a solicitor with all your emails etc and get him to write to him to try and bring this to a close.

Pleas remember to RATE
Customer: replied 7 months ago.

Could you elaborate briefly? That is indeed my and most people party to the situation's conclusion, however he continues to threaten to sue me for damages claiming all sorts of nonsense. Given the following facts, I have would agree with you however, let me know if I am mistaken on any of the following; 1. He never formally agreed to the Cost Estimate sent to him and I have recorded emails and sms confirming our face to face meeting to discuss the "costing issue" 2. The overall budget of 130K of which he paid to date to the subcontractor of £39,000 and £10,900 to Jewsons for the supply of materials was well within both budgets, both the verbally agreed one and his "fantasy one" 3. Professional fees were not charged nor paid in light of his behaviour 4. The fact that he cut his own deal with the sub-contractor voids his agreement with the contractor. 5. his aggressive and threatening behaviour documented in writing would not help his case if it ever made it to court. Or is it all just a matter for the court to decide? I am sure he can find a lawyer who would happily take his fees. I would prefer to avoid any litigation as it is rarely a satisfying experience. Thank You

Expert:  Thomas Judge replied 7 months ago.
I completely agree that it is better to avoid court, but sometimes you need a lawyer to help avoid such costs. It would appear from what you have written that you may well have entered into a contract with him. As such whilst it appears that you have done absolutely nothing wrong, if he wants to get aggressive (which seems nonsense from what you have written) then a safety first approach would appear to be a lawyer. He can recommend mediation to avoid the court.

Please rate
Thomas Judge, Solicitor Advocate
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 8752
Experience: Award winning lawyer with over 15 years experience
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