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Order of pre-hearing steps – allocation etc

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  • Order of pre-hearing steps – allocation etc

    From EX306 The small claims track in the civil courts:

    What happens when the court receives the directions questionnaire?

    When the court receives the filled-in directions questionnaire from both sides, the judge will look at the information that has been provided. The judge will then decide how the case should move forward by considering which route it should follow. The judge will take account of what has been said in the claim, defence and directions questionnaires and will look specifically at the amount in dispute, the timetable and the evidence needed. All these things will help the judge to decide whether the case should be allocated to the small-claims track, the fast track or the multi-track.
    But with the questionnaire I've just received, it says, "It appears that this case is suitable for allocation to the small claims track. If you believe that this track is not the appropriate track ..."

    Presumably no judge has looked at my case yet, so when does a judge look at a case?

    In my case, the claimant cites an invoice that would not (and was not) created on the date stated (or any other date). It's my understanding that a judge might well, perhaps should, strike out the claim on this fact alone, notwithstanding s/he may wish to see documents that make it clear the invoice did and does not exist. Really, I don't see that it can be seen as a matter for mediation. On the other hand, it is the case that mediation or judgment on a correctly submitted claim may indicate that the claimant may expect some payment from me. If the case were to go straight to a hearing, I don't know what I'd be expected to defend, the non-existence of the invoice or the amount payable. Anyone any idea how things are likely to proceed, please. The Citizens Advice Bureau have told me that nothing is likely to go ahead while mediation is pending, in my case by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

    Since I would say "No" to "I can confirm that I have enough information about the claim to allow me to enter into negotiations", should I not (exceptionally?) tick "No" to "Do you agree to this case being referred to the Small Claims Mediation Service?"

    My defence:

    Case with the Financial Ombudsman Service since 9 September 2019.
    The Financial Ombudsman Service reference is: PNX-3241987-N3J1

    No invoice was raised on 18 February 2019, no backdated invoice
    has ever been presented to me.

    The claimant installed a smart gas central heating boiler for me
    in February 2019. The sum of 3,627.40 was to include 12-year's
    servicing, a premium price, but I would not need to worry about my
    boiler for 12 years. I paid 750 with the order, and 1,250 at the
    end of February, making a total of 2,000 paid.

    Thus, on 18 February 2019, the date of the invoice given in the
    Particulars of Claim, I had only paid 750 to the claimant. At
    that time, I had not stated that I intended to make a payment in
    the future of 1,250.

    No goods were supplied to me and no other services were
    rendered to me by the claimant other than those relating to the
    above cited boiler installation according to the order
    therefor, dated 31 January 2019. There is nothing for which the
    claimant had reason to invoice me for 656.14 on 18 February 2019,
    and I certainly never received one of that date.

    The Internet connection device (LAN2RF Gateway) supplied with the
    boiler had an unclear password. This device, costing over 180,
    allows information to pass between the boiler and the
    manufacturer, Intergas, and/or the installer, in my case, the
    claimant. Its functioning is necessary to comply with the terms of
    the 12-year warranty. This same device also allows the setting of
    the thermostat from a computer Internet browser. This device was
    not replaced by one with a clear password until 9 July 2019.

    The claimant issued a final demand dated 16 July 2019 for
    2,877.40, clearly not taking into account the 1,250 already

    The radiator temperature was found to be low with the Internet
    connection device connected in. The claimant responded to my
    assertion of this fact with a nonsense telephone call on 19 July
    2019, saying that the boiler could not operate for long at 80C,
    that if it did, the radiators would explode, and so on, and so on.

    I emailed ###### ####, Senior Customer Care Advisor at HomeServe
    (the claimant company being part of HomeServe), on 22 July 2019.
    I stated that I had no intention whatsoever of not paying any
    amount that constitutes fair payment for the supply and
    installation of the Intergas Xclusive 24 boiler, but that I felt
    that the time taken to resolve the Internet connection device
    issue constituted a breach of the original contract. In view of
    that and the telephone call (the one cited here in the preceding
    paragraph), I did not see how I could reasonably and/or justly be
    expected to hand over payment beyond that for the supply of the
    boiler and its installation. I got no reply.

    I put the case on the Resolver website (www.resolver.co.uk) on 28
    July 2019, seeking a figure for a concluding payment to the
    claimant for the supply and installation of the boiler and all
    that was necessary for that, but excluding any amount for the
    future servicing of the boiler. I felt the claimant's performance
    of their contractual obligations had taken far beyond a
    'reasonable time', and I had otherwise 'lost faith': the telephone
    call from them cited above, and the fact that they did not respond
    when I telephoned them on 17 February 2019.

    The claimant issued another final demand for 2,877.40 the next
    day, 29 July 2019.

    Full instructions for connecting the Internet connection device
    without lowering the radiator temperature were finally supplied in
    August. The lack of information could be said to have been due to
    an omission on the part of the boiler manufacturer, Intergas.

    I elevated the case on Resolver to the Financial Ombudsman Service
    on 9 September 2019.

    I received a letter from Pannone, the claimant's solicitors,
    citing 2,877.41 (sic) payable, dated 22 October 2019. Ultimately,
    it was possible to convince them that I had paid 1,250 at the end
    of February. The final communication I received from Pannone,
    dated 13 November 2019, states, 'Due to the inconvenience of
    receiving the letters requesting payment of a balance that has
    already been partly paid, our client is willing to reduce the
    outstanding balance by 100.00. Therefore the remaining balance
    payable is 1,527.40.'

    Replying, in my last email to Pannone, dated 14 November 2019, I
    expressed my concerns about the time it had taken to resolve
    issues and essentially asked if some other concluding arrangement
    might be arrived at. There were and have been no further
    communications between us.

    Although, or perhaps because, the boiler is technologically
    advanced, its installation does not require the wiring in a more
    conventional boiler does. The controls are either on the boiler
    itself or connect remotely wirelessly. The thermostat also
    connects wirelessly. I feel a figure of 2,656.14 for the supply
    and installation of the type of boiler I had installed is,
    therefore, a premium price, even including extras needed like
    those for the vertical flue in my case. Paying that amount, I
    would not expect to have had to deal with the problems cited
    above, nor to have needed to input much of the knowledge required
    for the Internet connection myself. The conditions of the 12-year
    warranty state '[services] must be carried out by Intergas (or an
    agent appointed on behalf of Intergas)'. Intergas has my boiler
    registered under the scheme with HomeServe arranged by Octopus
    Energy, so it is not clear to me that there will be anyone to
    service my boiler under the terms of the warranty. In December, it
    became evident that a condensate trap had not been fitted in the
    connection to the stack vent (sewer). The installation can,
    therefore, still now not be said to be fully complete, and I do
    not see that any resolved amount deemed still payable should be
    subject to retrospective interest.

    But, the figure of 656.14, or anything near it, has never been
    put forward before. At this time, I do not know definitively what
    supply of goods or rendering of services is being referred to in
    the Particulars of Claim, nor indeed, whether this claim is not
    being made completely in error.
    Last edited by notalawman; 15th February 2020, 11:20:AM.
    Never put yourself on trial

    Will you be able to find a surer proof of an evil and shameful state of education in a city than the necessity of first-rate physicians and judges, not only for the base and mechanical, but for those who claim to have been bred in the fashion of free men? Plato, The Republic, 405
    Tags: None

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