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  • advice on a legal matter

  • Martin Manley

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Has anyone had this experience and if so, how did they deal with it?
    Four months ago i got the job of making a new sign for a nightclub in a local town. It was a folded dibond panel, wrapped in vinyl with a set of stand off built ups in stainless effect dibond with LED halo lighting. I charged Β£2000.00 for it, got a Β£300 deposit and had it made and installed 2 weeks before the club opened as the owner wanted to create a bit of interest leading up to the opening night.
    Even though he expressed delight with the finished product, it was difficult getting the balance of the money out of him and a month after the club opened, he disappeared owing thousands of pounds to everybody involved. I was angry about it, but eventually put it down to experience and counted my blessings that I’d at least covered my material costs.
    However, it turned out he’d only been renting the premises and the landlord then stepped in and took it over – refusing to pay anyone as it was not his debt and opening up the nightclub again. I told him I would take the sign down if I was not paid as it was still officially mine and his answer was that I would be trespassing on his property, etc. if I did.
    Losing the money was a wrench, but having someone trading with a free sign is really getting up my nose – short of doing something illegal, has anyone any ideas on a course of action ?

    Martin πŸ™

  • Stephen Ingham

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Hi Martin, thats really bad news and appears a little underhand.

    I’m not really sure where you stand as the original customer has now "done one" but the first thing i would do is ring a local solicitor or citizens advice and get a bit of proffessional advice.

    Failing that, sell the debt to a local "collection agency" and let them send the "boys" round……….(only joking) 😳

    stephen

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:39 am

    I would remove the sign – it’s still your property and has not been paid for. It’s the only way to deal with these people. That’s what I’ve done in the past.

    Remove the sign – seriously.

  • John Childs

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:39 am

    If your terms and conditions state that the goods remain your property until paid for in full, with a right of recovery, then you will be covered.

    Personally, I wouldn’t worry about any of that legal nonsense. I’d just be round there early one morning and take the sign down.

    Make it his problem.

  • Marcella Ross

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:40 am

    On the bottom of every invoice I issue there is a printed section that reads ‘all goods are the property of blah blah blah, until full and cleared payment is received.’
    So if it was me …………. I’d go and take it back.
    Pearce Signs did that up here with a guy who openend a restaurant and didn’t cough up. They sent fitters out to take it down and the guy panicked and paid up because he didn’t want the sign removed.

    Besides ……….. the story could be a good scam ………. i.e. the landlord and guy in it together to get the stuff for free in the first place! πŸ‘Ώ

  • Ian Higgins

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Hi,
    I agree with with Phil 100% I have removed signs and even taken letters and numbers off vans that have not been paid for so you can not read the name or number.

    Cheers

    Ian

  • Dave Harrison

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Martin it depends on where the sign is. . for example if the nightclub is on the high st then it will be over the public footpath, so you won’t be trespassing.

    I’m not sure about the law, but I think if it went to court he’d find it very hard to get you prosecuted for trespassing if you were trying to recover your property and he refused access !

    Trespassing or not I’d go and take the sign down. . or at least pull oll the built up letters off !

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:47 am
    quote Marcella:

    Besides ……….. the story could be a good scam ………. i.e. the landlord and guy in it together to get the stuff for free in the first place! πŸ‘Ώ

    can’t half tell you used to be a cop Marcella πŸ˜›

    Here, it would be trespassing, and the police will arrest you, and you will get charged.

    A debt collector will have no success as your invoice would be in the name of the tenant, not the landlord.

    I’d be engaging a solicitor. I’d also take photos tonight of the sign up, and in place with the night club open. Make sure its time and date stamped. It will be very helpful when your solicitor makes a claim.

    Sounds like a scam to me tough.

  • Tim Painter

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 8:10 am

    send the boys round and take it down – it’s the only language they understand.

  • Peter Mindham

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 8:11 am

    I would be there when they are closed and remove it personally. I think it sounds like a scam. I always wait for a cheque when I install. No cheque on install, the sign comes down. Done it once and the guy paid me cash next day plus extra install fee to reinstall.

    Hindsights 20/20 of course. Good luck mate hope it works out.

    Peter

  • Marcella Ross

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 8:46 am
    quote Shane Drew:

    can’t half tell you used to be a cop Marcella πŸ˜›

    that’s me …………. I suspect the worst in everyone until they prove me wrong πŸ˜‰

  • John Harding

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 9:16 am

    yep ditto the above – turn up with a few handy guys and take it down – possesion is 9/10 ths of the law.

    John

  • Hugh Potter

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 9:22 am

    i’d take it down, regardless of cost,

    like Marcella, the first thing i though when john said the landlord had re-opened it was ‘scam’ !

  • Stephen Morriss

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Isn’t there something about taking over a business means you take on the debts as well.
    I would just go and take down the sign, also take a few big mates along as well with instructions not to actually get involved, "they came along for the ride officer" πŸ™‚

    Not to sure about all these terms and conditions etc, the goods are yours until paid for anyway, aren’t they?

    Steve

  • Fred McLean

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Interesting situation! Nice little scam!
    We got burned like this a couple of years ago for over five grand!
    We took legal advice and was advised we were legless [didn’t have a leg to stand on:-}] However, we were also advised to include the following on our invoices: The material on this invoice remain the property of ……. until paid in full!
    If it’s not paid for, it’s still yours.

  • John Childs

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Fred,

    You also need to include a right of entry clause so that you don’t get any of that trespassing nonsense if you need to get into the premises.

  • Gert du Preez

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Over here, once something is attached to a permanent structure it becomes a fixture of said structure, i.e. it becomes part of the building AND CAN NOT BE REMOVED. Apart from trespassing, the owner (if leased, tenant) of the building can have you prosecuted for malicious damage to property. If your invoice/quote stated that you remain the owner until paid, it means you remain the owner of the sign if not installed permanently, or, if installed, the owner of the debt outstanding NOT THE SIGN. Our legal system is based on that of the UK, so it will most likely be the same for you.

  • Gavin MacMillan

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Gert, this is how I understand it as well. Not too sure though, think we may need to look into this!

    G

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 10:58 am
    quote John Harding:

    possesion is 9/10 ths of the law.

    John

    That’s true John, but in this instance it is in favour of the landlord as he presently possesses it πŸ˜•

    To remove it would be theft. Much the same as Gert says

  • Steve Coyle

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:10 am

    If it was me I’ld take it down, and if he went legal , I’ld take my chances! In my view, I think you would hear no more about it

  • John Childs

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:23 am

    My apologies to all you folks in other parts of the world, but what you are saying is not the law, as I understand it, in the UK.

    If your terms state that ownership stays with you until paid for in full then it is still yours and you can reclaim your goods at any time. It doesn’t matter whether the sign is screwed to a wall, or leaning up against it.

    If your terms have a right of entry to recover unpaid goods then you can do just that without fear of prosecution for trespass. By accepting that clause the property occupier has automatically given you permission to enter, so where is the problem?

    I’m no lawyer, so Martin should consult one if he feels the need, but I wouldn’t bother. IF the club owner wanted to take it further I think he would get short shrift from the police and would be advised by them to pay the bill.

  • Marcella Ross

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:29 am

    :yes1:

    and go to the police he won’t do …………… because he’s a conman!!!!!!!!!!
    I can smell it a mile off πŸ˜€

  • Rodney Gold

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:38 am

    You cannot repossess unless you have a court order/judgement, even if the property is "yours" in terms of the contact. In effect that clause in your contract is innefective.
    The landlord is responsible for payment as he is unfairly enriched by using your sign. You CAN sue him.
    I would either see a lawyer or just leave it alone , it might not be worth your while. Write it off as a bad debt and get the tax breaks.
    Perhaps parking your van in front of the premises with a BIG poster "THE SIGN IS MINE AND HASNT BEEN PAID FOR" at peak times might get some response.

  • Russell Spencer

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:41 am
    quote :

    If your terms state that ownership stays with you until paid for in full then it is still yours and you can reclaim your goods at any time. It doesn’t matter whether the sign is screwed to a wall, or leaning up against it.

    If your terms have a right of entry to recover unpaid goods then you can do just that without fear of prosecution for trespass. By accepting that clause the property occupier has automatically given you permission to enter, so where is the problem?

    You are quite right about the above, the only problem is that these terms have to be agreed in advance on a signed agreement, it is no good just sticking it on the bottom of the invoice, that is not enough from a legal point of view. We all have a story like this, mine is Β£5000 worth from Christmas, if the company has been liquidated the ONLY way you are sure to get anything back is to take it down on the quiet and salvage the parts. If you then go back and offer the original sign to the new owner you then become involved in theft because once the sign is mechanically fitted to the building it becomes part and parcel of it, it would be like pinching the front door.

    But if you were to sell him a very similar sign to the one he had at a discount price…???

  • Martin Cole

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:44 am
    quote John Childs:

    If your terms state that ownership stays with you until paid for in full then it is still yours and you can reclaim your goods at any time. It doesn’t matter whether the sign is screwed to a wall, or leaning up against it.

    This is how I understand it aswell John.

    Theft, Trespassing etc etc, I would still take it down and would’nt think twice about it.

    It hard enough to make a living in this world as it is, without bast*rds like this pulling fast ones.

    I read stuff like this and my blood slowly begins tto boil πŸ‘Ώ

    Go get it down Martin

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:50 am

    The bottom line is the "Landlord is taking the p1ss.

    You either let him do that or you take back what is rightfully yours. If it was me I would remove the sign – No hesitation.

    If that’s not quick and easy to do – remove essential parts (such as one or two letters – better still if you can make it spell out an insult)

  • Martin Cole

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:54 am
    quote Phill:

    – better still if you can make it spell out an insult)

    Brilliant idea πŸ˜€

    It would be like watching Countdown

  • Rodney Gold

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Can’t you go to a small claims court in regard to this matter?

  • Shane Drew

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 11:58 am

    John, the assumption is that Martin had the clause on his invoice. I don’t see in the original post any mention of the clause tho.

    I’m pretty sure the law here is similar to yours though. As has been stated, in a court, if the client has not signed the clause specifically, the lawyers will have a field day. The client must sign the clause acknowledging ‘they read and agree to the terms of the contract’ or ‘account terms’. Otherwise it not worth the paper it is written on.

    Basically it will deter the client that wants to be smart, but you can call their bluff. But if the client has any experience with the law, he’ll know his rights. Right will be on his side in this case if the document has not be duly signed.

    I still think you’ll find the law will be against you on this, if you remove it from the building. You can bet he’ll get his lawyers on to you, and then you’ll have more expense defending your actions, when a quick call to a solicitor could circumvent any problems later.

    Just my 2c’s

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Why not give us the name of the nightclub and we can all suggest names you could make from it?

    Let’s see

    A Night club called "Snobs Bender" Becomes… " nob end " πŸ˜€
    or "Party School" becomes… " ar S ho l" :lol1:

    (I know – it’s very childish – but me and Alison have spent our lunch break coming up with these names) πŸ˜•

  • John Childs

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 12:38 pm
    quote Shane Drew:

    John, the assumption is that Martin had the clause on his invoice. I don’t see in the original post any mention of the clause tho.

    I’m pretty sure the law here is similar to yours though. As has been stated, in a court, if the client has not signed the clause specifically, the lawyers will have a field day. The client must sign the clause acknowledging ‘they read and agree to the terms of the contract’ or ‘account terms’. Otherwise it not worth the paper it is written on.

    That’s absolutely right Shane. But we all have those clauses on our contracts/acceptances, don’t we? Don’t we?

    No, of course we don’t, but this case is a reminder that we should all look to our paperwork so that we don’t fall into the same trap.

    However, I stand by my comment that the police in the UK would not be interested.

    I’d get the sign down. To minimise problems I’d do it first thing in the morning when the owners of the club were still in bed then there would be no trouble. They wouldn’t even know who had done it.

  • George Elsmore

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    take it down and worry about the legalities after…….. (:)

  • Mike Kenny

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I would Totally agree with most of the comments about taking the sign
    down!
    Take it down early in the morning with minimal damage if possible to the background. – at least you have the satisfaction and he does’nt have a free sign!
    Going on personal experience the Cops wont be interested in civil
    matters and he will look pretty foolish trying to sue for something he does not own.
    I would also contact your immediate competitors and fill them in , Guys like this need to be blacklisted.
    good luck
    mike

  • Nick Walker

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    I’m with George on this one. Take it down asap – the longer you leave it the harder it will be to argue your case.

    Interesting point John re T&C’s. I spent a long time looking at this but don’t think it really changes much anyway – bit of a grey area all round but basically if they haven’t paid for it it’s your property.

    I know that one of the larger players in this industry only puts T&C’s on their invoices, but I think its too late by then anyway.

    Send the boys round – but make sure the doormen have gone home first πŸ˜‰

    Cheers. Nick.

  • Tim Painter

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Rodney

    Small claims court is a waste of time I feel.

    More time money & effort and 50p a week from the client for the rest of their life if they actually pay it.

  • Karl Williams

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Rodney,
    I haven’t read all the posts mate so forgive me if i am repeating someone elses post.

    If this new guy has taken over the business and is trading under the same name, he has taken over the business and all its debts.
    He owes you. Tell him pay up or lose the sign. Simple.

  • John Childs

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 2:52 pm
    quote KARL WILLIAMS:

    If this new guy has taken over the business and is trading under the same name, he has taken over the business and all its debts.
    He owes you. Tell him pay up or lose the sign. Simple.

    Not necessarily so Karl.

    If you buy a limited company by buying all the shares in that company, then the company still owes you.

    If, on the other hand, it was a sole proprietor or a partnership, then the debt belongs to the individual who placed the order. The fact that this new guy started a business, which coincidentally had the same name as the old one, is immaterial.

    The moral here is never to buy a limited company or you may leaving yourself open to being saddled with debts, warranty obligations and other liabilities which were withheld from you at the point of sale. Better to just buy the assets and goodwill and start your own limited company, probably using the same trading name with just the year, 2007 maybe, or some other identifier tagged on at the end.

  • Martin Manley

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks for all your replies today guys…my hearts with the "get it down" boys, but i like the idea of getting up early one morning and re-arranging the letters – it’s called "SERENA" so the obvious rude word would be very funny indeed and sum up the bloke who took the business over while certainly giving me a lot of satisfaction.
    cheers Martin

  • Marcella Ross

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    :lol1: :lol1: :lol1: …………….. go for it!!!!!!!!! Then take a pic to let us see!!!!

  • Graeme Speirs

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    brilliant, the thing is if you did re arrange it to say AR5E, it would prbably only drum him up even more publicity….take it down unless they pay I say!

    graeme

  • Harry Cleary

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    make sure to give him a new slogan as well Martin…..’AR5E, it’s a right hole!’ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  • Marcella Ross

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 5:23 pm
    quote Harry Cleary:

    make sure to give him a new slogan as well Martin…..’AR5E, it’s a right hole!’ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    :rofl:

  • Hugh Potter

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    i know it’s of little help, but i get all of my customers who are having work done sign an artwork agreed, Terms & conditions accepted form, it’s very simple to make in word ! that way, even if they didn’t read the terms on the bottom, they have signed to say they have.

    Hugh

  • Jon Marshall

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Just take it down. Had a similar one last year. They still owed us over a grand so we went there at 5.00 am and took it down.

    They were on the phone as soon as they got there in the morning begging us to put it back up. Which we did. For a re-fitting charge of Β£250!

  • John Stevenson

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Agreed

    Take it down.

    Cops will tell him it’s a civil matter.

  • Dave Harrison

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    While I think rearranging the letters is an absolutely classic idea, I reckon he’d have a much better chance of successfully suing you than if you just take it down.

    Take the sign down and I think his solicitor ( if he decided to go down that route ) would basically advise him he hasn’t got a hope in hell !
    The police won’t be interested unless they arrive when you are taking the sign down in which case the most they will do is move you on.

    However if you re-arranged the letters to spell Ar$e, a good solicitor may find it easier to win damages against you for putting his clients business in disrepute.

    Of course you could always argue that the Β£300 deposit paid only covered the costs of the letters A , R , S and E !

    Whatever you do don’t let him get away with it, best of luck

    Dave. .

  • Peter Normington

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    I’m all for taking it down as well, you could however leave a sign in its place, fitted with a couple of security bolts reading "sign removed as it wasnt paid for"

    Peter

  • Derek Heron

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    i am on the take it down side, early morning.
    but In its place put.
    closed until further notice! or under receivership.
    that will get his attention he will know its you.
    all you have to say is that was underneath when fitted.
    also i would stick a recorder on your phone in case he threatens you with his bouncers.ooo err!.i have cctv in my unit and outside.my mobile is on my desk and i have it set so i can record if needed.
    i had a non paying customer a while back and with the help and advice from the board members i got my money.
    persevere mate hope it works out

    Derek

  • Dave Bayes

    Member
    April 25, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Hi Martin

    Sorry to hear about your predicament – nothing winds me up more than bad payers.

    Much of the thread seems to be about retention of title, ie owning the goods until they’ve been paid for in full. Whilst it is common for many businesses to have words on their invoices to the effect that the goods remain their property until paid for in full, these words alone are unlikely to afford you the protection required. I’m not a lawyer and its a while since I studied some law, but I ‘m sure the authority for this area of the law is covered by what is known as the "Romalpa" case . Don’t want to sound like an anorak, but for those interested it was a case heard in 1976 ,between a manufacturing company and an aluminium supplier called Romalpa. The manufacturing Co couldn’t pay and Romalpa wanted to get their gear back. It was held that this could be possible, but the supplier has to meet other conditions, such as forwarning the customer in your terms and conditions that you will enter their premises to get your goods back, amongst others.

    If anyone wants to strengthen their rights in this area, just Google, Romalpa case and there is plenty of easy reading setting out what you should have in your terms and conditions to cover yourself.

    Frankly, Martin, i’d be down the club early taking the sign back. Can’t see the Police being too interested even if the guy caught you.

    Dave

  • Hugh Potter

    Member
    April 26, 2007 at 8:12 am

    i currently use this on the bottom of a word template i made, simple stuff really,

    Customer name

    Job details

    Price
    Deposit required Yes / No ?

    Installation date

    Artwork accepted Yes / No ?

    I / We hereby acknowledge the terms and conditions of the agreement as laid out below,

    signed Print name Position in company

    Payment kindly requested as due upon completion of work.

    All goods, either supply only, or supplied and fitted, remain the property of Drag-On Signs until payment is received in full. Payment is due upon completion of the project, or as agreed by separate contract. You hereby give Drag-On Signs permission to remove the goods in the event of non payment, this may also incur additional labour charges if you request the goods returned. Where a deposit is required, it must be cleared before the job commences.
    By signing this form, you are entering into a legally binding contract, you are also agreeing that you have inspected the proposed artwork, so please be sure that everything is correct at the time of signing, any mistakes or changes after this point, may be chargeable, In the event of a cancellation of the job., the customer is liable for the full costs of Drag-On signs, for any materials purchased and time incurred, this will be deducted from the deposit.
    All artwork submitted by Drag-On Signs, whether designs, text, colour schemes or layouts, remain the copyright of Drag-On Signs, Artwork / copyright may be purchased if the job is not accepted…, if you or someone on your behalf, reproduces the work without purchasing the copyright, you will be in breach of copyright law and recompense will be sought .
    It is the responsibility of the customer to inform us if you do NOT own the copyright to any artwork, logo’s, or designs, whereby you request Drag-On Signs to reproduce them. By asking us to reproduce, we will assume you have sought and attained the rights, and we will not be held liable for any breach of copyright that may occur as a result.

    Full terms and conditions are available upon request.

  • Jason Xuereb

    Member
    April 26, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Have you Birthday party in the nightclub and put your drinks on your TAB.

  • Stephen Morriss

    Member
    April 26, 2007 at 10:09 am
    quote jxuereb:

    Have you Birthday party in the nightclub and put your drinks on your TAB.

    Did that at a local pub that owed me Β£35.00. Invoice had been outstanding for near 6 months so I started a tab and over a few weeks it strangely came to almost Β£35.00.
    Funny thing was he had been reminded constantly about the invoice and it still wasn’t payed, but within a few days of starting the tab he was asking for it to be payed, so at the opportune time I handed him yet another statement and he OFFERED to offset it with the tab πŸ™‚

  • John Childs

    Member
    April 26, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Nicely done Steve.

    My sister had her wedding reception at a local club because the owner owed our dad a lot of money. The reception invoice came to a lot more than they owed us, and we made them wait a long time for the balance. πŸ˜€

  • Karl Williams

    Member
    April 26, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Just take it down. No money, No sign. Personally, I think it was a bit daft not to get half up front to start. Changing the letters around to look obscene, even though It will make you feel really good, is a stupid idea. He’ll either sue you or deck you. Keep it professional throughout and keep your cool. You must send him a letter to start and tell him of the consequences for failure to pay within the next 7 days. If he takes legal action against you which in reality is possible, and don’t think he won’t, you need to make sure you have given him every chance to settle the bill. Find out from a solicitor what he can do to you then you can be ready for his next step. Stay one step ahead of him.
    If you do put a threat in writing you must see it through.

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