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Negligent contractors - should they be removed from the property?

View profile for Christopher  Lee
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As spring is in full swing and summer stampedes towards us, many people look towards the garden and consider what needs to be done to enjoy a barbecue in the sun. Hopefully, you just need to mow the lawn and spruce up the flower beds, but if you require more substantial preparation, like many new build homeowners, you may be considering contacting garden contractors to design and develop the garden for you.

Whether you are instructing a plumber, an electrician, a double glazing contractor, or a builder, most of the time, the works will be completed properly, without any melodrama, and everyone will be happy. But what if the works are not completed on time? Or the materials used are not of satisfactory quality? Or the works have not been completed with reasonable care and skill? Or even worse, a combination of these and maybe more?

With any luck, a resolution can be agreed and the works will be finished off properly. But what if no agreement is reached, or even worse, the contractor refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong at all resulting in a hostile environment? The obvious thing to do is to ask the contractor to leave the property and stop the works because, after all, by continuing with the works they could be making things worse. But this could actually be the worst thing you could do because the contractor’s  breach does not automatically give rise to the right to terminate the contract. By asking a contractor to leave your property and preventing them from completing the works you could make yourself liable to the contractor for any loss of profit they suffer, and potentially other losses too, but more importantly to you, they could be released from their obligation to complete the works.

In my experience, asking a contractor to leave the property is almost always a bad decision. And this is true whether you have a contract worth £100 or £100,000,000. If you find yourself in such a position, I would always advise you to check the contract to see if you have a right to terminate it.  If in doubt, seek legal advice because the last thing you want is a court claim being made against you when all you were trying to do was to get the works completed properly.

For any queries in relation this blog, please contact Christopher Lee at cl@hughes-paddison.co.uk.

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