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
paid.

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.