Topic: Legal action on delayed completion

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  luceeann 3 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #1716

    luceeann
    Participant

    Hello
    I completed on a house purcahse on Monday 8th July, originally planned for Friday 5th July. The delay was caused by the certificate of title not being received by my mortgage company and the funds were not released.
    The people I have bought from are seeking compensation for compensation that they have had to pay to the people they bought from. This totals £740. Because the error lies somewhere between my solicitor and the Woolwich I have been liaising with them to cover the funds. However since both believe they acted appropriately neither are willing to pay up.
    As such I am being thretened with legal action, I presume through the small claims courts. I am just wondering if anyone has any experience of this and has a view on whether should just settle and move on or hold firm. My solicitor is being very bullish about it being unlikely that they will claim but I am obviously more nervous.

    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks
    Lucy

    #1717
    Richard Watters
    Richard Watters
    Moderator

    Hi Lucy,

    It’s your solicitor’s responsibility to provide the certificate to the mortgage company prior to completion. Have they given a reason why it was sent or received late, which caused the delayed completion?

    From what you tell me the responsibility lies with your solicitor. I’d tell them that if the seller does claim, you’ll expect them to deal with it and pick up the tab, including compensation if it gets that far.

    Solicitors’ default reaction is to never admit fault or liability and they know that as they are legal experts and their clients aren’t, that 99% of the time they can get away with mistakes by just doing nothing.

    If you’re not happy with their response I’d write to them advising them that if this is not dealt with by them you’ll refer the issue to the Legal Ombudsman.

    #1719

    luceeann
    Participant

    Thank you Richard.
    The solicitor stated that the original certificate of title was faxed with the date of the 5th. The Woolwich claim not to have received this and therefore did not release the funds. The solicitor then provided a revised version dated the 8th, which I have a copy of.
    I asked the solicitor to provide copy of the original fax or a delivery confirmation slip – neither of which is available.
    Do you therefore feel responsbility is with the solicitor? In which case should I refer directly to the legal ombudsman or wait to see if legal action os progressed?
    Regards
    Lucy

    #1720
    Richard Watters
    Richard Watters
    Moderator

    Of course it could be a solicitor error (not sending it), Woolwich error (mis-filing it) or just a problem with the fax machine. However it is the solicitor’s responsibility to get it there in time, and check that it has been received.

    I wouldn’t take further action at this stage, just make it clear to your solicitor that you hold them responsible, and suggest that it would be good practice for them to agree to pay the claim themselves as they are clearly at fault. From their reaction so far it seems unlikely that they will do this but you’re setting the scene.

    #1721

    luceeann
    Participant

    Thank you very much. This is really helpful guidence which I will follow!
    Lucy

    #2038

    luceeann
    Participant

    Hi Richard (or anyone else that can help)
    Thank you so much for your previous advice, it has been really helpful, sadly things have not concluded but they moved on.
    After following your advice I did in the end contact the legal ombudsman, they concluded in my favour that the solicitor had been the casue of the delayed completion. But at that point I had not incurred any real losses (the court action was just threatened). I agreed to hold off on formalising the complaint to the ombudsman based on their advice on the basis that if the court action proceeded I should contact them after that concluded and they could then factor in any losses I had incurred as part of any financial redress from the solicitor.
    I am now in the middle of court action with the seller asking me to repay the following costs that they incurred from the sellers of their house up the chain –
    – Additional mortgage interest paid £72.28
    – Extra removal charges incurred £216
    – Legals costs of issuing notice to complete £120
    Plus reduction in license fee for the house they were selling (now my house) for 3 days which was paid in advance £331.23
    Totalling £739.51
    My solicitor is claiming that I should defend this claim with the exception of the £72.28 – he gave the explanation below which is extremely complex to my simple brain!

    If advice or guidance could be given with regards to what I can / should state in terms of the defence in the small claims court I would be very appreciative.

    Thanks
    Lucy

    With house sales and purchases time i.e. the time of completion is not ‘of the essence’ of the contract. The only penalty in a contract is the interest penalty. Time becomes ‘of the essence’ when the date/time of completion is past and formal Notice is served requiring completion within 10 working days. Only at the end of that period can the deposit be forfeited and damages arise which even then have to be proved in the Court as reasonable and foreseeable and not ‘remote.’ Even then the Plaintiff has to mitigate their loss by taking all reasonable steps open to them.
    If this principle of contract law is applied then the action has to fail. It is because it is not generally understood that claims for ‘compensation’ arise within minutes of a completion time being missed. They are fallacious.

    #2039

    luceeann
    Participant

    Hi Richard (or anyone else that can help)
    Thank you so much for your previous advice, it has been really helpful, sadly things have not concluded but they moved on.
    After following your advice I did in the end contact the legal ombudsman, they concluded in my favour that the solicitor had been the casue of the delayed completion. But at that point I had not incurred any real losses (the court action was just threatened). I agreed to hold off on formalising the complaint to the ombudsman based on their advice on the basis that if the court action proceeded I should contact them after that concluded and they could then factor in any losses I had incurred as part of any financial redress from the solicitor.
    I am now in the middle of court action with the seller asking me to repay the following costs that they incurred from the sellers of their house up the chain –
    – Additional mortgage interest paid £72.28
    – Extra removal charges incurred £216
    – Legals costs of issuing notice to complete £120
    Plus reduction in license fee for the house they were selling (now my house) for 3 days which was paid in advance £331.23
    Totalling £739.51
    My solicitor is claiming that I should defend this claim with the exception of the £72.28 – he gave the explanation below which is extremely complex to my simple brain!

    If advice or guidance could be given with regards to what I can / should state in terms of the defence in the small claims court I would be very appreciative.

    Thanks
    Lucy

    With house sales and purchases time i.e. the time of completion is not ‘of the essence’ of the contract. The only penalty in a contract is the interest penalty. Time becomes ‘of the essence’ when the date/time of completion is past and formal Notice is served requiring completion within 10 working days. Only at the end of that period can the deposit be forfeited and damages arise which even then have to be proved in the Court as reasonable and foreseeable and not ‘remote.’ Even then the Plaintiff has to mitigate their loss by taking all reasonable steps open to them.
    If this principle of contract law is applied then the action has to fail. It is because it is not generally understood that claims for ‘compensation’ arise within minutes of a completion time being missed. They are fallacious.

    #2040
    Richard Watters
    Richard Watters
    Moderator

    I’d follow your solicitor’s advice. Then it’s up to the judge at the small claims court to decide, assuming it gets that far. If you lose I don’t think you’d have any difficulty, from what you tell me, in then claiming this from your solicitor, along with any other costs you incur.

    #2041

    luceeann
    Participant

    Thank you Richard.
    Lucy

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