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debbie43...
debbie43...

Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:28am

Post Subject: Problems with the boat builder HELP!!!

Hi, I'll try to keep story short so here goes ..... We commissioned a boat builder to fit out our Jonathan Wilson shell. We visited a few boat builders and picked this one because he seemed genuine, promised all the right stuff and his price was right!!! BUT this is where we f**ked up, we didn't get a contract!!!! We had made a scrapbook of how we wanted everything and took it to him to peruse and yeah he said not a problem, whatever you want you can have, I will be your slave!!! So we thought we were on a winner but oh no!!! This was in January this year, the boat was being started in March and the boat builder said it would be 5 months from start to finish so this meant end of August, unfortunately he forgot to say 5 months from when he started on the fit out and he had taken a refurb boat in after we had chosen him etc and so didn't start boat until July!!! Not once did he tell us the boat would not be ready in September!!! I transferred my job to the area we were gonna be mooring and had to live in a caravan on the marina awaiting completion of the boat build!!! Unfortunately we are still waiting for completion and living in the caravan is really stressing us out!!! In Nov 21 he said it would be readying one more week then 5th Dec and its always the next week!!!! We have paid him CASH in stage payments and still final payment to be made on completion, and he has given us receipts but obviously he is dodgy because he makes us pay for items and deducts it from stage payments (although the bills are in his name not mine) Anyway my hubby lost it big time with him last week as we are sooo frustrated and since then he's started to bodge stuff and that's making us even more angry!!!!! Please can someone give me any advice as what to do?????? I am so stressed and off work ill because of it!!!!!! Any advice welcome and I know we've been idiots and we should have done this and done that etc etc bu t I am at my wits end!! Thanks in advance Debbie

Tony-B...
Tony-B...

Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:26pm

Post Subject: Problems with the boat builder HELP!!!

I am very sorry to hear this and although it does not help you this is a far to common story. There was much that should have been done differently but again that is no help so I will not go into it here. You need qualified advice and fast. Try Citizens Advice who now seem to act for Trading Standards but I fear getting an appointment might be too slow. Many solicitors give the first hour free so ask about, but you do need one with experience of such matters. I note one advertises in the magazines but can not find the adverts. I fear you may have to take possession of the boat and pay someone else to complete it BUT you must take advice to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. Sorry Tony Brooks

debbie43...
debbie43...

Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:53pm

Post Subject: Problems with the boat builder HELP!!!

Thank you Tony, I have spoke to a solicitor but he was not au fait on boat builders but basically because we have no contract neither of us have a leg to stand on???? May give them another call as we now have a set of keys and the boat is on the mooring??? Thanks again Debbie x

Tony-B...
Tony-B...

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:02am

Post Subject: Problems with the boat builder HELP!!!

Having slept on this sad post I think the solicitor you talked to may not have wanted to be instructed. I must take great care not to do the barrack room lawyer thing and make it clear that my civil law (mainly contract law) training was about 50 years ago and related to the motor trade. For a legal contract to exist its purpose must be not be illegal, boat fitting is legal. Both parties to the contract must be legally able to enter into the contract, I assume neither you nor the fitter was under age or a certified “lunatic”- sorry, cant think of a better word. Something known as consensus ad idum is required, that is both understood what was required in the contract – It seems you discussed this and provides a scrap pad. It has to be possible to fulfil the contract and I can see nothing that would suggest boat fitting is impossible. It has to be feasible – a contract to put you on the moon next week is probably possible but is not feasible – and fitting a boat in a reasonable time scale is feasible. There has to be offer and acceptance, that I you offered the contract and he accepted it. You note that there is nothing here about writing. Not only that but you have made stage payments and he has accepted them. In my view it is clear that a legal contract exists between you. Without any documents however the terms of that contract are very hard to interpret and prove. Again this is in my own view, by discussing this with you, accepting the hull and stage payments the fitter has “passed himself off as an expert” in his field of work and a court would expect him to fulfil the contract as an expert boat fitter would and I suspect they would also expect it to be concluded in a timely manner. It seems he may well have broken the contract by not completing it in a timely and expert fashion but the problem is that you would need court proceedings to even start to unravel this and test my amateur opinion and this costs money. Even if a court found in your favour and imposed financial penalties past experience shows that the most likely outcome would be that you would discover that the fitter’s wife somehow owned all the property, cars etc. with the fitter having nothing to pay you with. If he is a limited company it is almost certain that the company would be liquidated as insolvent so you would get nothing back AND you would have spent a lot of money on legal and court fees. My feeling is (and you must get expert advice here) is that it is likely that the fitter has broken the terms of your verbal contract and as such the contract is now voidable. That is you can remove the boat and any unfitted equipment that you can prove you paid for and refuse to pay any more money unless he gets a court order. I would advise that you get a survey done to ensure the boat complies with the Recreational Craft Directive AND has the mandatory documentation. If it does not then the fitter has probably committed an offence that is enforced by Trading Standards. If the boat does not comply with the RCD it is illegal to sell it within the EU but you may be covered by the self fit-out exemption which allows it to be sold after 5 years from its completion (again you need advice about this). Choose a surveyor who is also a Boat Safety Examiner so thy can do a BSC examination and issue a certificate or advise on what you need to do to make the boat compliant. If the boat needs further work use a company who are members of the BMF, probably through the CBA (Canal Boat builders Association) because the British Marine Federation have an arbitration scheme if one of their members gets into this sort of situation. The BMF also have a section covering legal and financial services. Tony Brooks

debbie43...
debbie43...

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:19pm

Post Subject: Problems with the boat builder HELP!!!g

Hi Tony, thank you for that reply, it's really helped!! I have since been in touch with another lawyer who basically said the same as you so your advice is sound!!! Funnily enough yesterday the boat builder gave me his final bill saying the boat is now complete and here is your final bill!!! No way is it finished Ne he knows it. My husband and I went round the boat and made a list of outstanding jobs and the jobs that are shoddy and not acceptable and gave him the list and told him I've isn't getting a penny till completed to our standards, so we'll see what happens next!!!! Really appreciate your advice and help! Thanks again Debbie

Tony-B...
Tony-B...

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:54pm

Post Subject: Problems with the boat builder HELP!!!

I think that you would be well advised to employ a surveyor (list in back of magazine) to produce a list of what has to be done AND to supervise the completion/rectification. At present it is your word against the builder and the builder might think that he can persuade a court that you do not know what you are talking about. There is no way he can try that with a surveyor. For sea boats it is not uncommon for a surveyor to be appointed to oversee a build on a customers behalf but it is far rarer (more is the pity) for inland craft. This means that if the fitter will not allow the surveyor to oversee the work a court may well decide that he has acted unreasonably which would strengthen you position. Tony Brooks

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