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Have I screwed up my defense?

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  • Have I screwed up my defense?

    Hello All

    I am (clearly) a new member but I do wonder if someone might be able to set my mind at rest one way or the other?

    I received a claim via MCOL from a company that claims I breached the terms of a contract. In a one sentence summary they paid a deposit to purchase my house but then pulled out and are now claiming it was me that pulled out. I'm happy to go into more details if anyone is interested but I suspect at this point I should keep my story short!

    Anyway, I filed my "defence" but I'm now terrified I screwed up because I didn't use the word "deny" anywhere. My defense was no longer than the form N9B allows without needing an "additional sheet" so it wasn't overly verbose but in seven short paragraphs the closest I came to explicitly denying the allegations was by saying "....<the only/key allegation made by the claimant> is therefore false....".

    I've since read a few example especially parking tickets etc where it is very clear the allegation(s) are denied and I'm now really worried that the judge might have a quick scan through, see I haven't "denied" anything by using the word "deny" and strike out my defense ?

    Any thoughts most gratefully received !
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Hi & welcome

    How long ago did you file it?

    (3) A defendant who –

    (a) fails to deal with an allegation; but

    (b) has set out in his defence the nature of his case in relation to the issue to which that allegation is relevant,

    shall be taken to require that allegation to be proved.

    https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/pr...es/part16#16.5

    CAVEAT LECTOR

    This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

    You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
    Cohen, Herb


    There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
    gets his brain a-going.
    Phelps, C. C.


    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
    The last words of John Sedgwick

    Comment


    • #3
      Saying the allegation is false is the same as saying it's denied so don't worry but if you want you can pm or post the particulars and your defence ( remove personal details)

      Normally the court wouldn't strike a defence off their own bat, it would be an application from the claimant. The court doesn't actually look at the claim until it's been allocated to a local court so if you do need to remedy things you will have time to apply to amend.

      So, this house sale, were you selling the house yourself privately or through an estate agent ? How much was the deposit, on what basis was it paid ( a booking deposit ? Pre-contract deposit ?) and what are the time scales ? Was it one of these quick buy companies or a sale/rent back type scheme, or a normal purchase ?

      The property ombudsman does mention pre-contract deposits in their code of practice for estate agents https://www.tpos.co.uk/images/docume...tober-2016.pdf
      Article here https://www.tpos.co.uk/news-media-an...lding-deposits

      “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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

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

      If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

      Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Phew! And thanks so much for both of your replies which answered by (first!) question. Even if I get no more help, the replies were so helpful that I shall certainly be adding a TP review for this site asap if not later today.

        If its ok, I would plan to pm the redacted particulars and my defence to Amethyst after writing this but once the case is behind me (at long last I hope!) I would be ok with them being published here in case it helps future legal beagles.

        Edit: Hmm could it be I am too new to PM?




        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by OhNo View Post
          Phew! And thanks so much for both of your replies which answered by (first!) question. Even if I get no more help, the replies were so helpful that I shall certainly be adding a TP review for this site asap if not later today.

          If its ok, I would plan to pm the redacted particulars and my defence to Amethyst after writing this but once the case is behind me (at long last I hope!) I would be ok with them being published here in case it helps future legal beagles.

          Edit: Hmm could it be I am too new to PM?



          Amethyst

          (nudge nudge )
          CAVEAT LECTOR

          This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

          You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
          Cohen, Herb


          There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
          gets his brain a-going.
          Phelps, C. C.


          "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
          The last words of John Sedgwick

          Comment


          • #6
            need 5 (?) posts prior to PMing

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by des8 View Post
              need 5 (?) posts prior to PMing
              Who or what is P Ming?

              (Only joking, des8 )
              CAVEAT LECTOR

              This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

              You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
              Cohen, Herb


              There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
              gets his brain a-going.
              Phelps, C. C.


              "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
              The last words of John Sedgwick

              Comment


              • #8
                I think I managed it ! I PMed the particulars and my "defense" such as it is.


                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by OhNo View Post
                  I think I managed it ! I PMed the particulars and my "defense" such as it is.

                  Amethyst
                  CAVEAT LECTOR

                  This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

                  You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
                  Cohen, Herb


                  There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
                  gets his brain a-going.
                  Phelps, C. C.


                  "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
                  The last words of John Sedgwick

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Got it xxx
                    “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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

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

                    If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

                    Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Amethyst has already very kindly given some thoughts but she needs more information (see below re contract). After some thought I think it would be much better to post here in public my story as it unfolds because I imagine PMs whilst extremely helpful for me, won't help others going forwards or the site. There is a risk the claimant would be reading this and if anyone thinks I'm saying too much before the case I would of course be grateful if that was pointed out.

                      So we live in a modest house in the south-east of england that we bought a long time ago. It has gone up in value quite a lot and a couple of years ago we had property developers sniffing around including eventually one giving us an offer we found hard to refuse. There were other developers interested but this one "gave" us £2.5K to secure the property. Subsequently, we found a new house to buy, found solicitors etc and started the legal process to buy the new place and sell our existing to this developer.

                      Around 2 months later on the day or thereabouts contracts were due to exchange the developer said he had found some issue with drains and wanted a 25K reduction in order to proceed with the purchase. After a couple of emails on that day I was at the end of my tether and offered him 5K (or was it 10k I'd need to check) and then he replied that that "...wasn't nearly enough...". At that point I believed he definitely wasn't going through at the original price and felt terrible - it was also a Friday before a bank holiday so plenty of time for me to "enjoy" thinking about it. It is also interesting to note here that the requested £25K reduction amounted to the same offer we had previously rejected from him many months before his offer that we agreed to which makes me think this was the figure he'd had in mind all along. Note also that the 25K whilst a huge amount for us, was tiny for him - the site would have been worth well into seven figures after development !


                      Anyway, as a result of that we decided not to deal with this company anymore. 5 days later the company apologized, explained there were issues between directors in the company and then proceeded to go back to the original price specified in the contract. But by then I'd had enough of them. We were also having multiple calls up and down the chain from estate agents and our vendor it was extremely stressful.

                      All this is captured in emails.

                      As a result of that they are now claiming their 2.5K deposit back plus nearly two years of super high interest!

                      This was moving towards two years ago but the claim only landed a month ago and 2.5K is a lot of money but if I'm in the wrong I would rather just try to get the money from somewhere, pay it and get on with life. This case is really draining me - its all I can think about all the time. On the other hand, if I'm in the right it would be SO beneficial and SUCH a relief to just get on with life knowing its a simple case that I should win. Either way I really could do with this putting behind me !

                      Amethyst says what happens depends a lot on what is in the terms.

                      I've now attached the redacted agreement to this thread and claim and defence are here. I didn't sign it but I did say I agreed to it via email and in any case morally I couldn't say I didn't agree to it.

                      Thanks a lot for reading and hope its not too boring !

                      redacted_Offer_Letter.pdf

                      -------------PARTICULARS OF CLAIM: -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Claim for repayment of Holding Deposit in connection with the discontinued sale of <our home>. On 21st June 2017 we entered into a written agreement to purchase for <a few hundred thousand> the unconditional freehold title (meaning without covenants or overages) or <our home> with conditional planning consent subject to the usual conveyancing and contract and agreed to advance, as a sign of commitment £2,500 as a holding deposit.

                      We agreed if <the claimant> broke the chain of sale the holding deposit would be non-refundable. If <the defendant> broke the chain it would be refundable within two days. On 29th August 2017 <the defendant> withdrew the offer of sale subsequently breaking the chain of Sale.

                      The claimant claims interest under section 69 of the County Courts Act 1984 at the rate of 8% a year from 1/9/2017 to 18/2/2019 on £2750 and also interest at the same rate up to the date of judgement or earlier payment at a daily rate of £0.55.

                      -------------------MY DEFENCE---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      1/ On 21 June 2017, the claimant, a property developer, and the defendant, a software engineer, agreed to a written agreement. The claimant offered to purchase the defendant’s family home for XXX,000. The defendant agreed.

                      2/ On 12 July 2019 the defendant placed an offer on another property and so there existed a housing chain of sale.

                      3/ On 25 August 2017, on the day all those in the housing chain had anticipated would be the day for exchange of contracts, the claimant made it very clear via three emails (two from the claimant and one from the defendant) that they would not honour the agreement to purchase the defendant’s home for the amount agreed (£875,000) but that they insisted on a £25,000 reduction. This was a huge shock to the defendant.

                      4/ The defendant has no legal training but he believes due to some limited, written, legal advice he received at the time based upon those three emails and the agreement with the claimant, that this action taken by the claimant on 25 August 2017 was to break the chain of sale because the claimant reneged on the agreed purchase price of the property.

                      5/ On 25 August 2017, the chain of sale was broken by the claimant and so their claim that the defendant broke the chain of sale four days later on the 29 August 2017 is false because the chain was already broken and the terms of the agreement and the agreement itself had already been breached by the claimant.

                      6/ On 30 August 2017, the claimant informed the defendant that they would be happy to proceed with the purchase at the original price of £875,000.
                      7/ The claimant claims £2750 but doesn't explain where this figure comes from. They mention £2500 as the holding deposit but then produce a figure of £2750 without explanation. The defendant doesn’t understand which figure is being claimed. The defendant disputes it and interest applied to it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ok that's helpful.
                        ​​​​​​
                        On the day contracts were were due to be exchanged (25th) the buyer reneged on their offer to purchase the property for the agreed price reducing their offer by £25k.

                        You turned this offer down on the 29th ? or immediately ?
                        The letter offering the holding deposit does say 'subject to conveyance' - had they raised any queries / issues related to the conveyance before suddenly reneging in their offer on the expected exchange date ? What happened on the 29th that they are relying on to show it was you that broke the chain ?

                        They came back on the 30th though with the original offer - which does show they were simply trying it on with the reduction. It is likely to be that and your reaction to that that the case hinges on as to whether the deposit is refundable.

                        What had happened to the chain in those 5 days ? ( other than stress and phone calls- did anyone else pull out?) ie. had their action caused the chain to break ? As, if not, it may well be seen that it was your action in not accepting the originally agreed offer that actually broke the chain.

                        @R0b



                        “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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

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

                        If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

                        Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Amethyst View Post
                          Ok that's helpful.
                          ​​​​​​
                          On the day contracts were were due to be exchanged (25th) the buyer reneged on their offer to purchase the property for the agreed price reducing their offer by £25k.

                          You turned this offer down on the 29th ? or immediately ?
                          The letter offering the holding deposit does say 'subject to conveyance' - had they raised any queries / issues related to the conveyance before suddenly reneging in their offer on the expected exchange date ? What happened on the 29th that they are relying on to show it was you that broke the chain ?

                          They came back on the 30th though with the original offer - which does show they were simply trying it on with the reduction. It is likely to be that and your reaction to that that the case hinges on as to whether the deposit is refundable.

                          What had happened to the chain in those 5 days ? ( other than stress and phone calls- did anyone else pull out?) ie. had their action caused the chain to break ? As, if not, it may well be seen that it was your action in not accepting the originally agreed offer that actually broke the chain.

                          @R0b


                          Thanks so much for your time.

                          I tried to keep the sale going by offering a smaller reduction but when the buyer on the 25th made it very clear that the amount I had offered to discount by was "not nearly enough" I'd then decided enough was enough. It was a process over the next two days and I think I made it clear to the buyer on the 25th. My reaction to their offer on the 30 was to say "no" because I had already decided not to deal with them.

                          Had the amount he had offered been a stupid amount such as 1p for the house, would I still have had to return the deposit for the same reason? It would seem then that the deposit was giving me no security at all and almost served no purpose. I suppose I would say that by him "trying it on" as you say with a lower offer does that constitute in and of itself a break of the chain of sale?

                          I don't want to put words in your mouth but it sounds like it could easily go either way? The worst possible outcome because it makes it difficult to decide whether to continue.


                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ok prior to the 25th they had already indicated they were after a reduction ? ( ie what happened leading up to the 25th that you felt obliged to offer smaller reductions - were issues raised from the conveyancing process ?)
                            “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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

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

                            If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

                            Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
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                              “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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

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

                              If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

                              Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

                              Comment

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