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Debt collectors for unpaid invoice?

(8 Posts)
Firstaidnovice Fri 28-Apr-17 12:38:54

I am 99% sure I know the answer to this, but am feeling a bit nervous and threatened, so wanted to double check.

Our builder is currently claiming that we have not paid an invoice from work that was completed in November. This isn't true, we have partially paid a final invoice, we disputed some charges, and he has never replied with detailed information about the charges. Last we heard was in February, when our architect, who was acting as contract administrator, told us the issues were sorted and we had paid what we needed to.

There is a longer back story but that isn't massively relevant. Fwiw we have paid about 97% of the total amount invoiced over the course of the project.

Anyway, we have very recently received an email from the builder to say the overdue unpaid invoice is going to be passed to "debt collectors" if it isn't paid immediately. We replied asking basically, what on earth he was talking about, in a more professional way. He has reiterated that "we know we owe him money, he has an email from us stating as much, and that is enough for him to send round debt collectors".

There is no such thing as debt collectors for unpaid private invoices, is there? It would have to be via small claims if he wanted to take it that far?

He is quite a volatile character, and I'm vaguely concerned he's going to send some​ of his mates over.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Apr-17 14:10:46

Yes, debt collectors will deal with unpaid private invoices. However, they have no more rights than the builder. I think you are thinking of bailiffs who can seize your goods if there is a court order. Debt collectors, just like the builder, will have to go to court if they want to enforce the debt.

Dizzybacon Fri 28-Apr-17 14:23:00

As PRH says yes DC can be engaged by anyone, but unless they are Court Bailiffs in my opinion they are a waste of space anyway and not worth the worry, provided you know how to deal with them.

As I understand from your post the unpaid items are for costs in dispute. I this additional work he carried out that he didn't get prior agreement for?

I would write to the builder again asking him to clarify the costs, if he still threatens court action then let him take you court. If you're confident theses costs are disputable then you don't have anything to worry about.

If your refusing to pay them as a form of compensation for inconvenience caused you may find yourself on a bit of a sticky wicket.

Dizzybacon Fri 28-Apr-17 14:23:55

*is this

Firstaidnovice Fri 28-Apr-17 14:37:20

Thanks both, that's interesting. Our contract states any disputes need to go via an independent arbitration service, which we have told him we are happy to do, so his threat to send debt collectors round seems like unecessary escalation.
He refuses to give us any further clarification on the items in the invoice (which are for additional work which wasn't discussed, and no costs agreed), and won't even tell us the final amount he believes us to owe! It's ridiculous. He has now started talking about adding further costs for driving to wicked to pick up radiators for us (we said we'd get them delivered and he said it would be easier if he collected).
So - if I get a letter from a debt collector do I just say that we are willing to go to arbitration to discuss the disputed amount, and ignore further threats?

Firstaidnovice Fri 28-Apr-17 14:38:15

Wickes, obviously smile

Dizzybacon Fri 28-Apr-17 14:50:56

Based on what you've said I wouldn't give the builder anymore chances. You must follow the clauses within your contract if you wish to take this to Arbitration, what form of contract is it?

Also if you go down the Arbitration route neither of you can then start court proceedings and both parties are liable for the Arbitrators costs.

Have you sought advice from your Architect?

Firstaidnovice Fri 28-Apr-17 15:31:33

Our architect is no longer that helpful. The builder moved on from our project to another with the same architect, and got fired. I don't know the details, but I have picked up that it was for a similar pattern of behaviour. Anyway, the builder is incredibly angry with, and blames the architect. So, he's no longer doing the negotiation as it would make the situation worse, if that's possible. He agrees that the builder has no grounds for claiming these extra costs.
He has the contract, and I'm waiting for him to send it to us. Can't remember exactly what it was, but it was RIBA? He's forwarded us the clause about arbitration. Annoying that we will have to pay towards the costs. I was originally prepared to be reasonable and negotiate, but the erratic and threatening emails have made me very reluctant to pay a penny further

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