Small Claims Sunday

I have to admit I have a strange fascination with small claims. The decisions are short and concise, and provide a very interesting look at the legal issues people run into. The judgements also provide very practical pointers regarding what needs to be done in a lawsuit, as even though it’s small claims, nobody is allowed to be sloppy.

I’m planning on making this a weekly instalment to be published on Sundays, although this week’s post is a little late. The only decision out this week is Zhang c. Liu.

The plaintiff claims $6 343,72 for renovation work on the defendant’s house. According to the plaintiff:
– The agreed price was $4000, a “friend’s price” since he knew the defendant
– The defendant has only paid $2000
– The market value of the work done is $8 343,72, which he is demanding (minus the $2000 paid)

The defendant claims:
– The agreed price was $2000, which she paid
– She later verbally informed the plaintiff of her dissatisfaction and demanded corrections
– Plaintiff then demanded $2000 for corrective work, which defendant refused to pay.
– Plaintiff demands the reimbursement of the $2000 she originally spent.

Result: the judge rejected both claims. Rules of proof requires a party to show their version is more likely than their opponent’s.
Problems with Plaintiff’s proof:
– No contract had been signed
– Contradictory proof on the nature, quality, extent, and price of the work.
– discrepancies in the Plaintiff’s version:
— the list of work done provided was inexact and some entries were doubled
— Plaintiff couldn’t explain how he came up with prices
— Plaintiff couldn’t tell when the work was done
— Plaintiff claimed price of materials, but had no receipts

Problems with Defendant’s proof:
– she testified and provided some photographs but no expert testimony.
– she had never notified plaintiff in writing about the poor job, or otherwise given him formal notice.