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Consequences of distributing copy of Small Claims form before submitted to court

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  • Consequences of distributing copy of Small Claims form before submitted to court

    This is the short version. I will expand if anyone needs more info.

    My brother and I agreed with a builder to do some work on a house we are renovating (will be rented).
    Builder turned out to be verbally aggressive and abusive.
    Before we considered the work finished and to a satisfactory standard he sent an invoice (under 3k)
    We emailed him asking that he resolve some issues.
    2 Days later he said he would not continue working on the property ( he thinks he is finished).
    2 further days he sent a copy of a small claims application, it included a number of inaccuracies which I would be happy to oppose in court.
    he wrote to say he wanted to hear no more from us and the court would decide the outcome.

    Before his invoice we did pay 800 cash, he reluctantly gave a hand written receipt.
    We have not paid anything since then, but every email sent confirms our intention to pay once we can ascertain our costs to put right.
    - At this time (2 weeks later) I suspect he has not submitted the court application. we have received nothing.

    In the past week he has copied the small claims form (which includes his and my brothers addresses) and added our photos, and included some libelous words - he said we employed tradesmen (plural) and not paid them. We employed other tradesmen recommended by him (which he denies), they have been paid in full within 24 hours of receipt of invoice. Near my brothers house and the property being repaired he has posted this document through neighbours doors, placed them on cars, stuck them to lamp posts, post boxes and telephone kiosks. We have photos before we removed, we have written confirmation from neighbours about receiving them.

    Questions:
    Has he committed any criminal offence by posting the court document? (Even though it appears it has not been submitted to court)?
    --- note I am focus img on this being a (potential) court document, I am assuming the lies are a civil matter.
    Should he in the future submit the same form or an amended version to the court will his public posting / distribution have any impact on the case?

    Given that the impact of his libel is unlikely to have any financial impact on us is there any point in chasing him in the courts for libel?

    thanks in anticipation

    ColinK
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Goodness I suspect he's doing his own business more harm than is being caused to your brother although it's not nice at all. Has your brother spoken to the police about it - as it is harassment.

    Is there a claim number / stamp on this court claim form ? If so it's worth checking with the court ( Northampton county court business centre) to be sure.

    #staysafestayhome

    Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

    Received a Court Claim? Read >>>>> First Steps

    Comment


    • #3
      Leaving aside the harassment, you probably want to settle up with the builder fairly, and I suggest quickly. So, two questions

      Was there a specification for the work to be carried out, and do you have a detailed spec for the remedial work?

      You said 'We have not paid anything since then, but every email sent confirms our intention to pay once we can ascertain our costs to put right.' Do you have a timetable for that and an approximate costing? Is the amount outstanding more than the cost of the remedial work?

      Comment


      • #4
        Update

        This is a real court document. We received the papers today.

        In two phone calls to the police (civilian call handlers) said the posting of the court papers in public places and through neighbours doors was a civil matter.

        A visit to the police resulted in a call from police to him that if he does same again they will consider this harassment and will start an investigation.

        He posted another version of the same libelous document today in neighbours doors and car windscreens.
        I will inform investigating officer tomorrow when she returns to duty.

        We cannot make an offer of payment until we get final costs to finish his work and remedy issues. I am not concerned about facing him in court, we will make a generous offer for work done long before the court date.

        The following is a reworded version of my original first and last questions from post 1.

        By posting a real court document in public places before the respondent has received a copy from the court and before the court case has he committed any criminal offence? The civilian court clerk thinks not.

        Assuming a court would accept that statements on these posters is libelous is there any prospect of a successful court case, given that the libel is unlikely to have any financial impact on us?

        thanks Colin K

        Comment


        • #5
          "By posting a real court document in public places before the respondent has received a copy from the court and before the court case has he committed any criminal offence? The civilian court clerk thinks not."

          The Protection from Harassment Act does not fully define harassment, but the conduct in this case strikes me as being intended to cause distress and falls within the scope of the act. He has also, crucially, done it twice now. However, the police are quite likely not to act in this case, or they may just go round and give the builder a talking to. So, whilst I think a crime has been committed, it's up to the police whether they do anything about it.

          You can bring a civil action under the same act.


          "Assuming a court would accept that statements on these posters is libelous is there any prospect of a successful court case, given that the libel is unlikely to have any financial impact on us?"

          You'd get something for loss of reputation.

          Comment


          • #6
            Okay, let the Police know about the further harassment issues and try to get a crime number off them so you could include it in your defence/counterclaim.

            Could you post the particulars of claim from the claim for please. Has he used the new procedure ( so there's brief details, timeline and breakdown of amounts claimed ?)
            #staysafestayhome

            Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

            Received a Court Claim? Read >>>>> First Steps

            Comment


            • #7
              couldn't recommend starting a claim for slander
              have to file in Queens bench division of High Court and costs are high.
              If you win and if you get costs awarded will he able to pay or does he have assets?

              https://www.gov.uk/guidance/queens-b...e-to-the-court

              Comment


              • #8
                Update

                we went to small claims court.

                applicant denied posting the small claims application to neighbours and on cars.

                judge doubted applicant and warned him that she needed much less proof than other courts might require.

                we settled on a fair amount after private negotiation in the corridor (standard practice I believe)

                judge spoke to both parties and told us that if any future similar occurances occurred to contact her and she would issue an immediate summons for his arrest.

                no further issues.

                good outcome

                Comment


                • #9
                  Congratulations, and thank you for the update

                  Comment

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