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Grounds for legal action. What would you guys do?

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Dylan Hargreaves
Grounds for legal action. What would you guys do?
on Jul 21, 2011 at 7:53:34 pm

Hey CoW folk,

Had an interesting development today regarding a job that's left me in the position of being able to take legal action against the client. I wanted to canvas some opinion about what other people would do in my position.

Situation is this. A couple of weeks back, an inquiry for a job came in. Nothing ground shaking in terms of budget or subject - just a nice little corpy promo. Had a good chat with the owner and the next he confirmed he'd like to go ahead and use us for his video.

The shoot was supposed to be one day next week, depending on weather. We swapped back and forth a few emails confirming the nature of the job, angle we'd take and the budget. Then today I get an email from him saying he was cancelling the shoot.

Now he could've b-s'ed me and given any number of reasons that would've seen me walk away wishing him all the best. But bafflingly, he told me the truth: That he just found out one of his client's partners runs a video production company and they'd offered to do the video instead.

Although he and I didn't have a contract in place, under British law, you don't actually need one if there's evidence of an agreement between the parties as the nature of the work to be carried out, including budget etc. In this case, we have a whole trail of emails to that effect.

So I emailed him again saying that we have, in effect, a legally binding agreement in place, and that if he was pulling out of that offering no mitigating circumstance, I would be within my rights to seek compensation. I asked him to let me know how he wished to proceed.

He calls me up and we have a perfectly civil chat where he tried to retrospectively change the reason he'd given for cancellation. Besides, he said, how could the production go ahead now in any case?

I told him that as a professional. I would be happy to go ahead and still make him a great video at the agreed price if that was what he decided. That offer was declined.

So I told him he had two other options. 1) He could make me an offer for compensation, or 2) We call our lawyers and thrash it out in court. Bearing in mind how expensive that could get.

I think his pride kicked in at this point as he said his preferred option was to go to court. So I told him to have a think about it over the weekend and get back to me.

I feel like this guy has hoisted a massive middle finger at me, reneged on an agreement and thought nothing would come of it.

He's a relatively small business and this job was gonna do no more than pay a few bills, so I really don't want to the hassle, (or bad karma) of taking him to court. But I also don't think I'd be doing myself out of any future business or referrals from him either.

I didn't cold call him to get the job in the first place, I didn't put any pressure on him, he came to me, we had a chat, had a good rapport, (or so I thought) and he signed up. It's pretty out of order for him to just pull out in the way that he had. I certainly wouldn't do business like that.

Anyway, apologies for the long post, but what would you guys do? Bearing in mind, it's about as open and shut as legal cases get.

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