BetterLawNotes-5 (2)

CONTRACT LAW

Leo has just bought a battered old sports car. He intends to have it restored to its former glory as a 40th birthday present for his husband, Walter. Penny is a professional car restorer. On 1st March, she agrees with Leo that she will refurbish and recondition the car in time for Walter’s birthday on 1st September. Leo agrees to pay Penny £30,000, of which he pays £10,000 immediately. The balance of £20,000 is payable on completion of the work. Penny begins work straight away and on 1st April she spends £2,000 on parts for the car.

On 1st May, Penny is notified that she has been selected for jury service at the local Crown Court beginning on 1st June. She is told that her jury service will last for a minimum of two weeks, but that it might last for a longer period, depending on the duration of any trial to which she is assigned as a jury-member. Penny is also told that if she fails to turn up for jury service, she risks being imprisoned for contempt of court. On 15th May, Penny spends a further £2,000 on parts for the car. On 1st June, Penny is sworn in as a member of the jury on a complex fraud trial which is expected to last at least six months. During the evening of the following day, Jess spends a further £2,000 on parts for the car.

On 1st July, Leo asks Penny for an update on progress. Penny tells him that the job is half-finished, that she will continue working on the car during evenings and weekends but that it is inconceivable, given her jury-service, that she will be able to finish the job by 1st September. Leo replies that he cannot risk not having the car ready in time. He then engages Skye to complete the work in Penny’s place. By this stage all the parts which Penny has bought have been fitted to the car. Leo agrees to pay Skye £15,000 to finish the job.

Leo is now insisting that Penny repay him the £10,000 he paid her on 1st March. For her part, Penny refuses to return this sum and demands that Leo pay her the £20,000 balance as it was not her fault that she was unable to complete the job.

Discuss what rights, if any, Leo and Penny have against each other.

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