Saturday, 14 March 2009

Sian Gibbon sends me Wandsworth's defence

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Sian Gibbon of Ashfords Solicitors has sent me a copy of the defence, dated 13 March 2009. She's gone for a generalized deny-everything approach. No surprises there. No specifics and no mention of Ms Parris. This is the main body of the defence:
  • The Defendant [Wandsworth] denies that it is in debt to the Claimant [me] as claimed or at all and the Claimant is put to strict proof of all allegations.
  • The Defendant denies that the Claimant [sic], or any of its servants or agents has, at anytime [sic], entered into an agreement with the Claimant whereby the Defendant was contracted to refund to the Claimant any sum of money expended by her in relation to repairs at [address of my flat] in 2006 or subsequently. Furthermore, there is no contractual, statutory, tortious or other obligation upon the Defendant to make payment of the sum claimed by the Claimant or at all.
  • The Defendant denies that it has any contractual, statutory, tortious or other liability to make payment of the sum of £100 claimed by the Claimant in respect of her time. The Defendant maintains that it has complied with its duties pursuant to the Lease and is not indebted to the Claimant as alleged or at all.
The first sentence of the second para contains errors - "The Defendant denies that the Claimant...entered into an agreement with the Claimant"? - but I think I know what Ms Gibbon is trying to say. This isn't weighty litigation, after all, and no doubt Ms Gibbon has more important cases to attend to.

The bit about "strict proof" basically means they demand proof. Ashfords know I don't have, say, a letter from Ms Parris confirming our conversation about the repointing. However, this is a small claim, so it will be judged on the balance of probabilities based on the evidence presented, both actual and circumstantial.

I have other observations which unfortunately I have to keep to myself now that Ashfords Solicitors are lurking (they've been back since the first flurry of visits on Monday).

It is most interesting that Ms Ann Parris appears to have signed the Statement of Truth at the bottom of the defence (see photo). Obviously, I don't have an example of her signature to compare it against, but it does look like 'A Parris' and she is an estate manager. I will leave blog readers to draw their own conclusions as to the trufaxity of Ms Parris' statement: "I believe that the facts stated in this Defence are true."

This seems to be the standard phrasing for Statements of Truth. Some would argue that facts are, by definition, true; the word fact is derived from the Latin factum, meaning 'thing done'. However, the definition of fact in the Collins Dictionary includes "a piece of information", and it's possible to say "the newspaper got its facts wrong in that report", so false facts do exist.

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