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Lien or small claims court?? Advice please lovely people of Mumsnet

(2 Posts)
katieks Wed 04-Jan-17 14:39:36

Hi, we need some urgent advice please regarding whether a lien or small claim would be most appropriate. All the background info is below. We are very unsure about the lien aspect and were wondering whether a small claim for lack of duty of care? Surely it is not reasonable to leave someone else’s garage open, unattended and lit at night. Would this be enough? Is it just more of her money down the drain on this loser?
Below is the full info as per a previous post which the lien was suggested on:
Posting for a friend who finds herself in a tricky position

long story short - boyfriend moves in approx a month ago, relationship ends relatively amicably although there were some trust issues, name calling, so maybe not that amicably. But she says amicably. Boyfriend was due to move out, all set, but then announces that the friend he was going to stay at has said he can no longer stay there. My friend doesn't want her ex-boyfriend to stay in house (it's her house) but doesn't want him out on the streets either so agrees he can stay in her house for a few days until he goes off to family for Christmas hols (in Ireland). She makes it clear he needs to be OUT when she gets back. She leaves for her Christmas hols so he only has a few days alone in house. During those few days both of their (very valuable, £1000+) bikes get stolen due to boyfriend leaving garage unsecure. Boyfriend says he will pay up for bike, very sorry etc, etc. Boyfriend was supposed to hand in key when he left to another friend - he doesn't! Friend is in Spain so unable to do anything about it but returns to her house on return to find that boyfriend has left all his stuff there, but he is away (presumably in Ireland). Friend changes locks. Contacts boyfriend to say you can't get back in house, why did you take the keys & leave your stuff - boyfriend says it was by accident and that he assumed it was ok to leave his stuff there. He also admits he can't fund bike replacement. Oddly, his bike has been recovered, but is also at her house.

Her dilemma is that he has very high-value gaming and computing equipment and an expensive bike. He is now angry about her changing the locks and predictably things have turned sour between them. She wants to know can she keep his stuff until he coughs up for her bike? He claims not to have the money though. Also, she doesn't want him to come back to her house or see him again.

No written proof of his promise to pay for her bike. This was over the phone when they spoke, however, later he WhatsApp'd that although he offered, he cannot actually afford it. Exact words were ‘Concerning the bike: I made an offer but I cannot afford it’

His bike was recovered through advertising on social media and he was contacted about his bike by a stranger so that seems genuine, even though only his was found. The thefts were reported to the police. There is a crime reference, the case has been closed.

We Googled the 'lien' thing but it looks like that's only for services from companies and customers not paying? Or if you're a bank or something? How would she go about arranging it herself? Would it count for anything if she got him to sign something saying that he will over time pay back the bike cost? I've told her it will need to be drawn up by a solicitor, but does it? She's not exactly super-loaded herself despite the pricey bikes, so is keen to avoid extra court costs etc, but she is super annoyed (as am I for her!) but doesn't want a criminal record either!! Any practical advice on what she should do next? At the moment they're just messaging abuse at each other. He came to the house unannounced and posted keys through letterbox whilst doing it.
Please can someone legally qualified advise on the lien aspect? She is being pressured into returning his stuff. She doesn't want to break the law. The info online is all about companies and services. How does her situation warrant a lien? Does she have enough to prove that the money is 'owed' to her? She has tried CAB and Law Service Network - apparently not something they cover they say. Any advice much appreciated.

katieks Wed 04-Jan-17 21:01:03

Anyone please? She needs to give his stuff back, but doesn't want to if anyone can advise on whether a lien will be appropriate. She has a solicitor appointment on 17 January but I think she'll give in long before that. The boyfriend is back in the country and threatening all sorts.

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