My heart went out to this small contractor whose story I hear echoed by countless clients, some like him, others – often pensioners or those on low incomes – who have been ripped off by contractors less conscientious than Mr Danieli.
Neither side can any longer afford to seek “British justice” except in the small claims court, and even here claims frequently escalate once the full costs of restitution are discovered. Solicitor’s fees, even in the provinces, start at £140 per hour, rising to £240 plus VAT in the cities. Then they turn “fast track” trials into mockeries that drag on for months.
However, your own pages have frequently proposed what we’ve found to be an excellent antidote for small contractors against this lawyers’ feeding frenzy – it is adjudication, as built into the JCT/RICS/RIBA homeowners contract and much advocated by Building columnist Tony Bingham. Had Mr Danieli employed it, contractually he would have had the right to press expert adjudication on his defaulters. For £750, and within 21 days of the adjudicator’s appointment, it would have been all over. He would have a decision that could be enforced without the help of solicitors.
Jay Webb, fenestration surveyor