View Full Version : Payment problem - advice required please

21st January 2004, 17:49
Several months ago I completed a contract through an agency, using a management company (the contract was outside the UK). Now the agency is refusing to pay the management company's final invoice for my services. The agency says the client was unhappy with the work I did in the final weeks. This was a surprise, as I had been on the contract for seven months and had no previous trouble getting paid. I made the mistake (with hindsight) of not having signed paper timesheets - the client asked me to adopt their electronic timesheets which were of course, unsigned. I used this system for the first seven months and, as mentioned, always got paid.

The current situation is one of passing the buck - the management company won't pay unless the agency pays, and the agency won't pay unless the client pays. The lack of signed timesheets is the reason given by the agency for not paying. The management company is trying to resolve the impasse with the agency on an informal basis, but so far seems to have made no progress. I feel I have now reached the stage where I need to start taking formal action, but my question is - what action, and against whom? The problem is my contract is between the agency and myself (as an individual) AND the management company. In other words, there are three parties named. If it was just with the agency I would take action against them, but the inclusion of the management company in the contract seems to complicate things.

Previous postings to this board have mentioned issuing statutory demands/winding up orders, taking County Court action, and using Thomas Higgins. I cannot use Thomas Higgins as they only deal with business to business debt (my contract names me as an individual).

Can anyone offer any advice, perhaps from previous experience?

Thank you in advance.

21st January 2004, 18:59
Does the agency - management contract require signed timesheets?

When you adopted the electronic timesheets was there anything in writing between you and the agent saying it was OK to only submit electronic timesheets?

Does the agents contract with the management company allow them to withold payment until they are paid?

Was the client's displeasure expressed to you before now, you say it was some months since the job completed and the invoice has been in for some time?

23rd January 2004, 10:27
The contract does say payment will be made by the agent upon production of signed timesheets. I adopted the electronic timesheets from the very start, after being asked to do so by the project manager. I checked with the agency and was told it would be fine. I'm afraid nothing was put in writing though (with hindsight, this was a mistake on my part). I would argue however that the acceptance of the previous six months' electronic timesheets set a precedent, and effectively confirmed a change in contract terms.

The contract says nothing about about being able to withhold payments.

The client's displeasure was not mentioned until five weeks after I left - when I rang the management company to see if the invoice had been paid. I was on the contract for seven months, including two extensions, and left with emails of thanks from the team leader.

25th January 2004, 18:25
Get professional advice, looks to my uneducated eye like you have a case. The thanks from the team leader & extensions mean you can prove they are lying about you being unsatisfactory, however don't tell them that yet. The payment of previous timesheets suggest that they have accepted electronic timesheets also keep quiet about that.

Lawyers letters are fairly cheap and may have the desired effect, I'm told winding up orders concentrate the mind wonderfully. However IANA Lawer, talk to someone who is, I believe some will give you a free initial consultation. If you are a PCG or FSB member they have free legal lines.