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Our company has an external IT contractor who built and maintains our IT system, upon whic…

Customer Question
Our company has an external...
Our company has an external IT contractor who built and maintains our IT system, upon which our company is completely dependent. Our contract with the IT Contractor states that 30 days' notice is required for termination, Today he has e-mailed us to say that, unless we pay him the equivalent of £60 per hour, 24/7 (i.e. the equivalent of around £44,000 per month) he would withdraw his support as of 6pm this evening i.e. he is unilaterally terminating the contract without due notice. Our current fees are £2,200 per month. I have looked up the legal definitiion of 'Blackmail' and this appears to fit however when I called the police they said it's a civil matter and not criminal. This man could cause us to go out of business (our company employs more than 400 people). We are very concerned and don't know what to do. Can you help, please?
Submitted: 2 years ago.Category: UK Law
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Answered in 7 hours by:
6/9/2015
Solicitor: Jenny Mackenzie,
 replied 2 years ago
Jenny Mackenzie
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 6,467
Experience: Over 10 years experience in general legal matters
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Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today.
What reason has he given for this increase in fees?
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
He is unhappy because we have employed a trainee who used to work for him. The trainee is working for us in a different capacity but he says its a 'security risk' to the system. In reality he has sour grapes
Solicitor: Jenny Mackenzie,
 replied 2 years ago
Does the contract that he entered into with him allow him to increase his rate with no notice or say that the contract is subject to certain conditions such as who you employ or the systems you use?
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
No
Solicitor: Jenny Mackenzie,
 replied 2 years ago
Hi you will be able to bring a claim against him in breach of contract.
Clearly you will need to instruct a new IT support.
You will be able to claim for any losses arising from the breach,this could amount to lost income and also to any additional costs arising from having to instruct a new IT support.
You should send him a 'letter before action' notifying him that he is in breach of contract and that you intend to bring a claim to recover your losses.
If you have any further questions about this please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would take the time to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best.
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
Thank you. We already realise yes in breach of contract but taking him to court won't help our business - and anyway he is unlikely to be able to pay us compensation for the extent of the damages he could cause. Our goal is therefore to get him to change his mind - as we don't have the info we need to instruct an alternative supplier at such short notice. My question is: does this qualify as blackmail or any other criminal offence (such as extortion)?
Solicitor: Jenny Mackenzie,
 replied 2 years ago
Hi no it wouldn't as it is a business to business issue, criminal law does not cover it as at the crux of the matter is a breach of a contract between two businesses which is covered by civil laws.
Your only option really is to threaten him with a breach of contract claim if he does not change his mind.
I am sorry that this is not the answer you wanted but it is not surprising that the police were not interested in this as it is not a criminal law issue.
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
Ok thank you
Solicitor: Jenny Mackenzie,
 replied 2 years ago
No problem, please remember to rate my answer as it is an important part of the process and I am not otherwise credited for my time.
Many thanks.
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