Contract Disputes Regarding Satisfactory Quality and Fitness for Purpose of Goods and Services

Have you have been left unsatisfied by the quality of the goods provided by a supplier? Or are you in dispute with a purchaser who is withholding payment for goods or services you have provided?

At Lupton Fawcett, we specialise in contract law and dispute resolution, and we are well placed to help you with your case.
Businesses of all sizes rely on contracts when purchasing or selling goods and services; they are crucial to ensure smooth daily operations. Services that are considered unacceptable, or poor-quality products may mean that the other party has breached the agreement between you.

Wherever money is exchanged for good or services, a contract is formed, whether that is in the form of a one off or verbal transaction, or a trade relationship which is governed by legal written contracts. Businesses enter into these contracts in good faith, but occasionally issues arise with the goods and services provided, and where they fall short of the quality expected, you may have grounds to make a claim for breach of contract.

Consumers who purchase goods or services from sellers, retailers or traders who are acting in the course of their trade, profession or business have a wide range of rights and remedies available to them in the event that those goods or services are not of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose.  Also, rights and remedies are available to consumers who have purchased products online and have therefore not had the opportunity to examine the goods only to find that a fault or misdescription comes to light after delivery.

If you have concerns about your rights as a purchaser, or you are facing allegations of having breached a contract for supplying goods or services, our lawyers are here to help. We will assess your case and work to resolve your dispute, putting the needs of your business at the forefront of everything we do.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out the rights that apply to consumers when buying products, services and digital content. It states that they must match the description under the agreement to sell or supply, and goods sold must be “fit for purpose”.

When a person feels that there is a problem with the goods or services they have purchased, it is important that action is taken properly to address the dispute with the seller.  An informed approach by a consumer who is aware of their rights and remedies available to them under the specific terms of their contract and more generally under legislation governing such transactions often achieves and swift and satisfactory resolution of the problem.

For businesses, where a commercial dispute arises over the sale of goods or services, it can have a knock-on effect to its ability to meet demand and supply obligations, potentially resulting in cash flow problems and reputational damage. It can therefore be crucial to take expert legal advice as quickly as possible with the aim of resolving the dispute with minimal delay and inconvenience.

What to do if goods or services are unsatisfactory

Providing inferior services or a poor-quality product, when there is an agreement to supply these goods or services, may constitute a breach of contract. If you have an agreement with another party but have received unacceptable service on a contract, you have certain rights. It is important that goods or services supplied match the description under the agreement and that they must be fit for purpose; not damaged, broken or in any way spoiled.

When disputes such as these occur, much rests on the terms of the agreement in place, any relevant communications between the parties, and the steps that are taken when it becomes clear that a poor service or product has been supplied.  If you believe that products or services received do not meet the quality specified in your agreement, there are several steps that you should take.

  1. Communicate with the seller or provider

It is important to communicate with the other party before you consider taking legal action. They need to be aware of the situation and given a chance to remedy themselves. You can do this by communicating your issues in writing in which you state the issue and ask the supplier to either repair, replace or take whatever action is necessary to fulfil their obligations under the terms of the agreement or any statutory obligations they owe to you. You need to ensure that you fully read and understand the contract relating to the transaction and the relevant refund and returns clauses beforehand.

  1. Allow reasonable time

You then need to give the other party a reasonable amount of time in which to remedy the breach. It may be frustrating, especially where waiting causes issues or delays for your business, but without taking the correct steps and allowing the other party the opportunity to make amends you may face limitations if you come to make a claim for breach of contract.

  1. Keep records

Make sure that you document everything:

  • take pictures of damaged products or poor-quality workmanship
  • keep records relating to the substandard quality service provided
  • keep copies of all correspondence
  • Record details of all of the time spent and costs related to rectifying the issue.

If you need to make a claim it will be necessary to demonstrate the breach of contract that has occurred in order to justify the damages or compensation needed to rectify the situation, and documenting everything is crucial.

If the other party does not respond to your claim, you may need to take further action to pursue your claim and enforce your contractual rights.

It is wise to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity if you are considering taking action against a supplier; the same applies if a client is withholding payment from you relating to a dispute over the terms of your agreement to supply goods or services. One of our experienced breach of contract solicitors will be happy to assess your case and will advise you of your options relating to negotiation, resolution and litigation.

How can Lupton Fawcett help?

As contract law experts with over 100 years’ experience, we can help your business to address any disputes you face with efficiency and assurance. We will listen to you closely, assessing all of the legal factors affecting your case and will ensure we have a full understanding of the type of contract that governs your agreement, whether that be written, verbal or implied.

Our experienced Dispute Management team have a track record of acting for consumers and retailers alike and can offer a commercially-focused approach to resolving such problems.  We provide informed advice on the rights and remedies of consumers in such claims and also on the best strategy to achieve the desired outcome for clients in such circumstances.

We can offer advice at any stage of a sale of goods or supply of services dispute; we will look into the type of remedy that would be appropriate under the circumstances and will keep you fully informed throughout the whole process. We work with your business interests at the forefront of our negotiations; we will do everything we can to resolve your dispute with the minimum amount of disruption, preserving working relationships and avoiding litigation wherever possible.

We aim to offer swift resolution to disputes relating to commercial agreements, making sure that you are aware of timescales, costs and expectations all the way.


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