Campaign against standard term estate agency contracts

Category: Correspondance

Evans and the Industrial Tribunal

Excellent Web Site am sure it helped bring Evans down with total justification…. Karma does work ….I have waited 20 years for it…. He has not changed one iota.

I had the misfortune of working for him and I was chasing an exchange on a Friday when the Buyers Solicitor tried to drop the price by 3.5% , I firmly told him that I would report to my client however it was not carrying my recommendation.

Evans overheard my response and asked what was happening. I explained to him to which his response was “its peanuts to us….” bearing in mind our fee was 2% it was not a huge amount to us, however I pointed out that the amount of the proposed reduction covered the whole of our fees plus VAT and most of the solicitors fees as well for our Client.

He barked at me Get it Exchanged or else….. I ignored that and told my Client to stand his ground sure enough He did and we did eventually exchange though not until nearly a week later. Which I am pleased to say was at the originally agreed price, I gave the Solicitor a flea in his ear as well for disreputable behaviour.

Needless to say Evans and I fell out and I ended up at an Industrial Tribunal where the Magistrate instructed Penyards to settle and my brief had to threaten winding up procedures after one of a series of post dated cheques from Coutts bounced…!!!

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National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Unless the Estate Agent Has kidnapped or Attempted to Murder You, Don’t Expect Any Help!

We took our complaint to National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team and were surprised that there was actually some progress.  One of the team wrote to the Property Ombudsman asking why they had not taken action when Evans had clearly breached their code of practise.  We were awaiting a reply when we received this from the team manager … The contents beggar belief!

JMM

National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team James Munro

‘Your email has been passed to me as I understand you are not happy with the response from our team.

Firstly, I am sorry to read about the problems you have had, and are continuing to have. Secondly, I need to clarify our role so that you are clear what we can, and can’t do. Our duty is to assess individuals or businesses as to their fitness to carry out estate agency work, and to prohibit or warn those we find to be unfit. We do this after there has been a breach of the Estate Agents Act or an undertaking, or if a relevant offence has been committed which can trigger such an investigation (section 3 of the Estate Agents Act 1979 refers). This is normally done after an investigation by the local Trading Standards Service or other enforcement agency such as the Police or HMRC which then gives us the evidence to proceed. To give you some idea of the context of this, recent cases have included orders made in respect of individuals who have committed large scale fraud, manslaughter, kidnapping, and serious assault.

I accept that you are very aggrieved by the action which has been taken by the agent involved, and are also unhappy with the circumstances surrounding the subsequent court case. I cannot however find any evidence in your complaint that there has been either a breach of the Estate Agents Act, or that an offence has been committed which could trigger an investigation by us.

Our team consists of 3 full time and 1 part time member of staff to cover the whole of the UK, so we do not have the resources to get involved in attempting to resolve individual disputes. We are therefore unable to contact the agent to mediate or negotiate on your behalf.

I know this is not a response which you will be happy with, but we can only deal with issues where we have the legal powers and resources to take action. Should the local Trading Standards Service or the Police find any evidence which could lead us to start an investigation we would be happy to consider it.

Yours sincerely
James Munro’

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Does Steve Brine MP Winchester, Support Rogue Traders?

steve brine - mp winchesterJust prior to the election we wrote to Steve Brine, MP for Winchester about the situation the victim of Penyards has experienced.  We chose Mr Brine because Grahame Evans of Penyards is a constituent of his and plying his trade from his area.

 rogue definition:

‘Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?” (Saul Hansell).’

Mr Brine claims that he is a champion for citizens rights so when we wrote to him with regard to this he replied that ‘if reelected he was happy to consider taking it to House of Commons’.

Naturally, once the conservatives won we picked up the conversation where it had been left.

We also informed Evans of Mr Brine’s admirable stance on supporting a campaign that will affect his litigation, every homeowner in his constituency and the UK.

Then Mr Brine made a dramatic U turn.  It appears that Evans or his solicitors forwarded private correspondence and in doing so we can only assume that as is their way, they have threatened him also (although this is speculation).

We received this:

‘An email has come to my attention. Let me quite clear with you … if you wish to pursue legal proceedings against anyone that is your choice. I cannot, and will not, play any part in that as a Member of Parliament.’

Mr Brine’s comment was obtuse as no one had asked him to pursue legal proceedings against anyone.

He had been asked to support the campaign and ensure homeowners are protected. The aim of the campaign is clear.  The clause in Estate Agents contracts is clearly dangerous when a ‘rogue’ (see definition above) agent such as Grahame Evans chooses to ignore all industry codes of practise and should be struck out.

Now we understand the reluctance to get directly involved in the dispute between Penyards and the victim but the two are intimately entwined.  The victim’s experience is a documented case and what can happen when this clause is leveraged.  ALL UK homeowners are clearly exposed to massive exploitation when agents choose to litigate.

The ONLY reason this does not happen more often is that most agents act in the most professional manner and abide by the Codes of Practice set out to protect the public.

Everybody knows that the law is confusing and it often more about points scoring than what is fair and reasonable. However, this case is pretty straightforward and the clause in standard term estate agent contracts appears to be unfairly biased towards the agent.

The regulations are aimed at contracts made between businesses and consumers, and contracts which are drafted in advance and presented to the consumer to sign. They apply to all standard terms (i.e. those that have not been individually agreed with the consumer), by applying a test of ‘fairness’. If any of the standard terms fail this test, then they will not be enforceable against the consumer.

The OFT, and certain other bodies, can take legal action to prevent the use of unfair terms but they haven’t in this case due to the default judgement (ie there was no defence presented) Penyards luckily secured. A term is likely to be considered unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.

Yes, the clause is covered by TPO (Property Ombudsman) National Ass. of Estate Agents guidelines but Evans simply ignored them (rogue: operating outside normal or desirable controls). The TPO, NAEA and Trading Standards clearly have no teeth, therefore the public need to be protected.

TPO and NAEA codes of practice are simply unnecessary – no clause, no issue!

We received a letter from an agent claiming that the clause needs to be there to protect them from clients taking advantage of their marketing and moving on. Well the answer to that we believe is to ensure the agent offers a first class service isn’t it?  If the service is second to none then why would a client move on?

With the clause in place it leaves the door wide open for a super-aggressive estate agent to leverage tens of thousands of pounds from innocent homeowners … and in this case this is not the first time this agent has come to blows.

We have now written several times to Brine but he appears to be hiding behind his autoresponder, ignoring correspondence and in doing so clearly supporting the abhorrent practices of Estate Agents who choose to disregard normal professional practise with horrifying consequences for those who put their trust and property in their hands.

Mr Brine has a golden opportunity here to make a huge difference in championing reforms.  The fact is, that the situation the victim of Penyards faces could happen to anyone in the UK, even Steve Brine and his family. As said, we suspect Mr Brine has received veiled threats which would account for the recent change of mind.  If this is the case then surely it would be motivation to stop this now.

As it stands UK homeowners are open to massive exploitation and by doing nothing Mr Steve Brine is failing in his commitments and the faith his voters placed in him to look after their best interests. 

We await Mr Brine’s comments.

 

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Are Dutton Gregory Winchester Guilty of Deceitful Practices and Perjury?

Colin Passam Dutton Gregory

Screen shot from Dutton Gregory Website (no copyright notice)

Meet Colin Passam, a partner at Dutton Gregory Winchester. His company and employees Stephen Alexandre have handled the case at the center of this campaign on behalf of Evans.

This campaign is about exposing the devastating consequences suffered when an innocent homeowner gets tripped up by legal contracts enforced by the legal profession.

The campaign is simple – The clause in standard estate agent’s contracts Penyards have used to leverage such misery clearly breaches the Unfair Contract Terms Act in our opinion and therefore needs to be struck out once and for all.  Yes, the clause is covered by TPO (Property Ombudsman) National Ass. of Estate Agents guidelines but this agent simply ignored them. The TPO, NAEA and trading standards clearly have no teeth therefore the public need to be protected.

The issue with litigation lawyers is that they sit in their ivory towers sending out writs and enforcements in a business-like fashion, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there are real people left in the wake.  They generate their fees and move on, often without a second thought as to the mess they leave lives in.

The victim recently wrote to Passam outlining concerns regarding the way they conducted themselves to date.  A formal complaint was made but it has been ignored. When we informed Mr Passam that we were going to document our concerns on this website he quickly threatened to sue for defamation!

As far as we are aware, there is no law preventing the reporting of factual events.

The main allegations were that Dutton Gregory (representative) made false statements in court and conspired to ensure important documents were not received.

According to the court record, Dutton Gregory claimed that they ‘were unaware that the emails they sent were bouncing’; indeed this formed a major part of the judge’s final decision to not set aside a default judgement they had secured. (The judgement was made by default because the court failed to even present the defence)

The judge stated that the victim had communicated with the court with that address, which is true but he also communicated via post and other email addresses.  The reason the address would work with the court is that it was whitelisted.  Email is incredibly unreliable.

The victim has copies of the bounced email notifications recovered from the mail server (the judge did not see apparently) and even forwarded one personally to Stephen Alexandre to ensure he was aware of deliverability issues.  As there was not an undeliverable mail notification received then it has to be assumed that Dutton Gregory emails were working.  Yet it appears Alexandre continued to send mail to that undeliverable email address with no response (except undeliverable mail notifications) for nearly two years.

In court Dutton Gregory claimed to have not received the undeliverable email notifications which could possibly be the case.  ‘Surely mail of this importance should have been sent by post?’ Asked the victim. ‘And if they received no response, why didn’t they copy in any of the other contacts they had?’

A private detective was hired by Evans or Dutton Gregory to find the victim’s new address yet when furnished with the new address Dutton Gregory continued to send correspondence to an address that they now knew the recipients did not live at. Was this a deliberate tactic to ensure the victim stood little chance of getting the default judgement set aside because of the delay created?

It certainly formed a major part of the judge’s decision not to set aside the default judgement!

So for the record here is the formal complaint made to Colin Passam of Dutton Gregory

‘Dear Mr Gregory

I am writing to make a formal complaint against Stephen Alexandre and your company.

My complaint is that:

• He conspired to ensure we did not receive important legal documents by sending them by email only to an address he had been informed of as being undeliverable on multiple occasions
• He conspired to ensure we did not receive important legal documents by sending them to an address that you were fully aware of that the recipients did not live at and had not done so for over a year.
• Your representative lied in court under oath possibly based on instructions by your company (I believe you would have stated that you didn’t receive any undeliverable notifications).  You had been sent multiple ‘bounce-back’ emails including one sent separately from a separate address showing the address to which you were sending documents was undeliverable.

This situation has caused considerable impact on me, and my family. By conspiring to send documents to effectively a ‘black hole’ and lying to the court I believe you have manipulated the system to your advantage and facilitated the bankruptcy proceedings we now face.

In my view, you should start a full internal review of the companies actions. Instruct your client EVANS not pursue the default.  Open a full, open and honest mediation as to the legality (unfair contracts act) of the clause used to leverage this action.

………….

I understand that you are required to respond formally to my complaint. I shall follow up this letter if I do not hear back from you by 30th April. In the meantime, if you need any further information from me, please reply to this email (it works!)’

We have given Colin Passam of Dutton Gregory Winchester the opportunity to reply to these allegations and have received no response.

So are Dutton Gregory guilty of deceitful practices and perjury? The facts seem to indicate that there is cause for concern.

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Graham Evans Penyards Claims Harrassment

In an ironic turn of events this week the publishers received an email from the UK police. Evans has now claimed to be the ‘victim’ of harassment!

We believe that on the face of it Evans may come across as a legitimate businessman but in the opinion of his his latest victim ‘he is nothing more than a silver tonged-conman’.

The police were concerned about Evans’ claims:
‘I am currently investigating a case of harassment brought against you in England. The case relates to your continued and personal harassment of PENYARDS and its employees….

Please also disclose how you have been able to gain details of PENYARDS clients, as this may be a direct breach of the data protection act.’

Once we replied the police decided that there was no further action to be taken:

‘Sir

Thank you for your response. I will not take any further action in this case and will look to close the incident shortly. I have added the below email and the documents from your link to our systems for reference. I will also inform Mr EVANS to only have contact with yourselves via a solicitor. He will also be informed that this case will close and that I will take no further action against any party. ‘

Our response to Evans’ claim of harassment is below:

‘I find it very hard to understand how you can ‘allege’ harassment when we are actually responding to an aggressive and intimidatory campaign by Mr Evans. We have not once received a request to cease contact from him or any other parties so need to respond to letters, threats, derisory comments and emails initiated by them.

You will find that the harassment and aggression is all from Mr Evans’ side – If you visit the website you will read the details of harassment my family and I have endured for the last three years from this bully culminating in his threats to ‘bankrupt’ us.

Remember, all we did was put our property on the market with him and now he has escalated it to this.

I can supply you with reams of paperwork from Mr Evans that backs up every single syllable I’ve published. For years now we have told Evans to LEAVE US ALONE. But he has carried out his threat made several years ago to ‘pursue us relentlessly’

Now I have been forced to publish our story with our treatment by Mr Evans at its heart he doesn’t like it. Rather then assessing the situation and fixing the issues that caused us to fire them, he embarked on this road.

The simple fact is that we are now forced to publish our experience (as is our right I believe) for others to read and ensure they do not end up in the same situation. We have begun a perfectly legitimate campaign and have every right to inform others of our experience, especially those with Penyards contracts as they could end up in exactly the same boat. The campaign to outlaw unfair agency contracts is growing in support and we will be taking this to Parliament.

This could even happen to you Simon, or your family! A super-aggressive estate agent taking advantage of agency standard terms that according to law are ‘unfair’ and should not be used. He then bypassed all industry codes of practice rules and sought to intimidate and threaten us from the outset through his lawyers. If he had gone to mediation as we requested this would have been sorted a long time ago but he chose to attack us via email and verbally abuse us in the middle of the night by telephone.

We have recently received more threats from Mr Evans citing court action for defamation but as everything we’ve published is entirely factual they have not proceeded.

I have every right to publish the facts surrounding Mr Evans and if this is causing him issues it is entirely of his own making. As you will read he obtained a court order by default and deception. We do not have the funds, inclination or the geographical advantage to take this through the courts and why should we? We are simply homeowners caught in the grasp of a serial litigator. I know we are not the first homeowners Mr Evans has come to blows with.

I respectfully ask that you look seriously at Evans’ actions and look at charging him with harassment. He simply cannot be allowed to attack clients in this way and there is no place for bullies.

Here is just one example of the dialogue we’ve had to endure in response to a courteous request to seek mediation:

The only default that might occur is your non payment of your liability to me and if that is not discharged at the calling of the bailiff then I will bankrupt yourself and Mrs xxxxx at the earliest moment that papers can be served. You do not determine when this debt is paid, I do!

We should have made our own complaint years ago but hoped it would have been left alone … how wrong we were. We have told Mr Evans on numerous occasions not to contact us but he has ignored this over and over again. He called and threatend my wife and I in the early hours of the morning (2 years ago!) in what appeared to be a drunken stupor and has continued to threaten us ever since.

You need to be aware that:

  • Mr and Mrs Evans are making false statements and I would be interested in hearing what they have claimed in their statement to you
  • Mr Evans is copying and disseminating false and malicious information about myself copied in full breach of copyright law from scam websites
  • Evans has been stalking the profiles of Gauk Media (my company) staff this weekend

 

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Graham Evans Penyards Claims Deformation and Threatens Legal Action

An interesting twist in the campaign to remove unfair clauses from estate agent’s contracts developed last week.

The first ‘surprising’ development was when the vendors were copied in on an email sent by Evans to his solicitors.

Rather than spend time considering options and addressing the issues highlighted in this campaign Evans spent his time trolling the web in an attempt to ‘dig up dirt’ on his ex-client.  We can only imagine his joy when he ‘thought’ he’d discovered gold.

What Evans had stumbled upon was an entirely false article published on a scam website owned by a competitor.

Evans then proceeded to copy and disseminate sections of that website in breach of copyright law and the rights of the website owner: Copyright © 2015 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

The website Evans copied is at the center of a huge scam extensively documented on the Internet.  Yet rather than do his research Evans simply copied libelous and defamatory articles and emailed them.

What he hoped to achieve is anyone’s guess and it beggars belief that he would now stoop to these depths when the vendor simply gave Evans the opportunity to sell their home.

When the facts regarding the scam website were pointed out to Evans his reply was to state that he ‘was at the police station’.

Then a day later a letter was received by the vendors at the center of this case from Evans’ New Zealand solicitors claiming that this campaign was defamatory and the publishers ‘had to take down the whole website and publish an apology.’

The letter is copied below and makes interesting reading, especially when placed in the context of the published material on this site.

Evans claims that he has not acted aggressively – on this page we have reproduced dialogue by Evans.

aggressive

əˈɡrɛsɪv/
adjective
  1. ready or likely to attack or confront; characterized by or resulting from aggression.
    “he’s very uncooperative and aggressive”

Our response to Evans New Zealand Lawyers and what we feel are spurious claims:

We have to stand by everything published on the website … whatever the consequences.

Graham Evans of Penyards Country Property Hampshire has instructed his lawyers ‘to bankrupt the vendors without delay’.

So the threats made in the letter to sue for defamation are confusing as if they make the vendors bankrupt what do they expect to gain from sueing a bankrupt?

Secondly, the question was asked ‘under what laws and jurisdiction are they referring to in the letter? This is a UK agent a NZ resident and published by a Delaware company?’ (we await an answer)

The vendors wrote ‘We are a honest, hardworking family who simply put our home on the market in the UK to move to this beautiful country.

I told Evans this would be reported, now it’s starting to bite he’s using lawyers to threaten us further and worse, he’s now scouring the internet trying to dig up dirt on us.  Only yesterday he found an old article from a competitor which is defamatory and is emailing that – so really? Is this the actions of a professional?  I think not!

Take me to court for defamation – I don’t see any judge, or any decent, honest person having any sympathy for Evans – he’s a bully and there is simply no place for bullies.  He embarked on his campaign of harassment from the very outset before we’d even sold our home. Where reasonable professionals would have acted with integrity he chose to threaten us. Now that I am finally FORCED to fight back he’s acting like normal bullies. Instead of apologizing and putting things right, his hiding behind lawyers.

Continue to bankrupt me! I couldn’t fight this in the UK from the other side of the world and I do know that I have no defense here as you’ll just ‘rubber stamp’ the injustice.

All this is doing is adding fuel to the campaign and publicly making Evans accountable for his actions.

Remember, this whole situation is of Evan’s making, we moved on and walked away but he’s pursuing this relentlessly and creating the situation he now finds himself in.

Readers will make up their own minds in the court of public opinion.’

We are simply reporting the facts and if they culminate in the loss of business then, like Gerald Ratner, Evans will be the architect of his own downfall.

Evans is at the center of this campaign and the FACTS are being published.

The vendors say ‘Evans isn’t pursuing a commission we feel is justified (although it is in the contract) – he did nothing, absolutely nothing to deserve anything. In fact I would estimate that his company’s ineptitude in dealing with legitimate offers has cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds.  It was the hard work and negotiating skills of the second agent that secured the sale and Evans motivated by greed and avarice, feels justified in his subsequent actions.’

To the best of our knowledge everything reported here is TRUE but rather than act in a professional manner and mitigate the fall-out, Evans continues to be ‘aggressive’ .. FACT.

There is nothing libellous and if it is defamatory that is because Evans is acting in an astonishing way. Everything is factual – in OUR OPINION he is acting in an aggressive manner and has harassed the vendors for over two years now – that’s not defamatory – it’s FACT

Another FACT is that Evans has dissolved a number of companies in his career as an estate agent:

Director Overview: Graham Evans holds 4 appointments at 4 active companies, has resigned from 5 companies and held 5 appointments at 3 dissolved companies.

The combined cash at bank value for all businesses where Graham holds a current appointment equals £4,414, with a combined total current assets value of £237,354 and total current liabilities of £569,103.

Roles associated with Graham Evans within the recorded businesses include: Company Secretary, Director Registered Details Short name Graham Evans Year of Birth: 1956 Director ID: 906526265

Registered Address:

The Old Cartshed
Old Standlynch Farm
Downton
|Salisbury
Wilts
United Kingdom SP5 3QR

Source: http://companycheck.co.uk/director/906526265

‘Never trust a man who has had a few companies and with some of them ‘company is dissolved’

Not saying he does, but some run up debts and then ‘Phoenix’s a company’ which is legal, but close to the edge.

http://www.companyrescue.co.uk/creditors-voluntary-liquidation/what-is-a-phoenix-company

I’m a estate agent, and I compete against, these sort of estate agents. Who suddenly change their company name very slightly, but outwardly to the public the logo’s are still the same and the website the same. But they ditched the debts of the previous company and start a fresh.’

SOURCE: COMMENT LEFT BY A CAMPAIGN SUPPORTER

Letter received from Evans’ lawyers

[embeddoc url=”http://penyards-estateagents-countryproperties-ournightmare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/tranter-letter.pdf” viewer=”google”]

Reaction

a> Whilst employed, Penyards acted in a wholly unprofessional manner in the opinion of the vendors. ‘Penyards were instructed clearly on occasion after occasion to not tell clients that we were abroad as this would strengthen their position, yet they continued to barter with our property as if it were their own. We have reams of correspondence where we’re in an argument with them as we didn’t feel they were representing the property properly.  Look, if they were doing a good job they wouldn’t have been fired would they?

I have accused Lisa Evans of lies and stand by that – it is documented. If she can produce the publications that she refers to where she said she’d marketed our property and we could not find them, then I’ll retract that accusation.’

b>according to our interpretation and the opinion of our barrister the clause in the Unfair Contracts Act Evans has leveraged, breaches it.  We do say though as a caveat, that it hasn’t been tested in court in our case and the law appears to be confusing all to the detriment of the homeowner. This is the reason the campaign has been launched and we’re encouraging estate agents to support this with our case at its center.

c>We have not said Penyards managed to get the DEFAULT judgement because of dishonest behavior, we said they managed to get it because the court didn’t present the vendor’s defense. We say they took advantage of home territory and that the vendors were at a significant disadvantage trying to fight it from new Zealand, which is a fact.  The vendors did send the defense but the court simply did not present it resulting in a DEFAULT judgement – Subsequently, Evans team, willfully and in our opinion ‘deceitfully’ sent all correspondence to undeliverable addresses thereby manipulating a situation where the vendors missed all reasonable deadlines in getting the case reheard.

Penyards hired a private detective to track down the vendors as they had moved. Armed with the correct address all subsequent papers were sent to the OLD address.  We do not know if the addresses were sent to Dutton Gregory however they do refer to the correct address in correspondence which would indicate they were in possession of the facts

Dutton Gregory (representatives) then claimed in court and on oath that they did not receive bounce back emails.  The vendor OWNS the hosting company and can see from the log files Dutton Gregory did receive them (however, we cannot prove they were opened).  The vendor personally forwarded the emails Stephen Alexandre and received no undeliverable bounce back so it is assumed that he read them.

In suggesting that the vendors did receive paperwork (sent to undeliverable email address and old mailing address) persuaded the judge to not set aside the default judgement as the vendors had not responded in time.

We stand by our comments that Dutton Gregory acted dishonestly by using undeliverable addresses to send paperwork FACT!  Furthermore, according to industry guidelines Evans should have taken this to mediation, something we asked to do rather than embark upon his campaign.

d>see a

e> see c – a complaint has also been sent to the legal ombudsman.

f> See a – they also failed to follow many TPO guidelines.

g> IT IS FACT that Evans failed to follow multiple codes of TPO Code of Practice

h>When Spencers, a fellow estate agent tried to help resolve the situation Evans called them ‘cowboys’ and accused them of speaking with ‘forked tongues’ (letter available for inspection).

i> “I will bankrupt you and Mrs Tranter at the earliest opportunity” Graham Evans

j>The vendor has not accused him of being drunk as ‘I don’t know – I said he ‘appeared’ drunk so much so that my wife thought it was a dirty phone call and handed the phone to me because she couldn’t understand him.  When I took over he started a tirade of ‘slurred threats’ so I hung up.  In my opinion he was either drunk or having a stroke. The fact that he was aggressive is backed up as hours later as I received his threats to ‘freeze our assets’. (we hadn’t even exchanged contracts!!!)

k> We consider the letter to ‘gag’ free speech and threats of legal action if this this website isn’t taken down ‘aggressive’ and in line with everything the vendors have experienced to date. We have every right to document the facts.

4. The comments in the campaign are, to the best of our knowledge true. Matters surrounding the law are reproduced to the best of our ability as ‘lay person’ and based on the advice of lawyers and our interpretation of it.

‘Which actually it the whole point!’ Says the vendor ‘I am simply a person who wanted to sell my home and this is where we are.  And it is all surrounding the clause Evans has used to devastating effect. It is unfair whether that be legally or morally and our campaign is to get it removed from agency agreements with Evans as an example as to why.’

The Property Ombudsman could not act due to the DEFAULT order and certainly did not support Evans, after all he breached almost every rule in their code.

In my opinion says the vendor ‘we have been utterly shafted by Evans and his lawyers. That is my opinion and I’m fully entitled to it I believe.’

With regard to Dutton Gregory we stand by this publication and the complaint to the ombudsman.

In Summary
We are happy to consider specific points with regard to published material and put right any errors. Point out anything you consider false and send proof as to why.

Other than that the campaign will go on because it affects every person in the UK and other estate agents.  People simply shouldn’t be vulnerable to the opportunistic actions of the likes of Evans and be liable TWO agency fees.

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Trading Standards Remit

Good Morning

I’m sorry that my earlier reply was not what you’d hoped for and I do understand the seriousness of your situation.

I think there is some confusion on your part as to the extent of our remit. We are a local authority service and our statutory function is the enforcement of criminal legislation.

The clause you refer to is not illegal and is in fairly common use by Estate Agents in the UK. Whether it is ‘unfair’ within the meaning of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations is ultimately a matter for the civil courts in any particular case. The use of the clause is not a breach of criminal law.

We do not advertise or provide a dispute resolution service.   It does appear on the website of the Property Ombudsman to whom I believe your complaint was referred but unfortunately I understand that their jurisdiction ceases once a dispute has been referred to a court of law.

I am sorry that we cannot assist you but, if you wish to register a formal complaint, the procedure is documented on our website and I attach a link to the appropriate page:

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/haveyoursay/complaints/complaints-procedures.htm

Regards,
Jennifer Lenton
Trading Standards Officer

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Evans ‘aggressive’ dialogue

The only default that might occur is your non payment of your liability to me and if that is not discharged at the calling of the bailiff then I will bankrupt yourself and Mrs xxxxxxx at the earliest moment that papers can be served. You do not determine when this debt is paid, I do!

Graham Evans Penyards

Graham Evans Penyards

4th Aug 2013.  We received a phone call at approx 2am GMT where Mr Evans appeared drunk, slurring threats to ‘get my money’ and ‘freeze our assets’.

‘In the event that you fail to respond to this confirming, as in the attached email, our introduction and entitlement to our fee then our company Dutton Gregory have my instructions to apply to the court for a freezing order on Monday to ensure that our rightful demand for payment is met and that any expenses liabilities that are incurred in pursuit of this will also form part of our claim.’

‘I repeat my previous comments. My lawyers have irrevocable instructions to pursue you without compromise or delay. I have forwarded your email and demanded that they continue with immediacy.’

‘…… Our entitlement to our fee is established under clause 10.1 10.1.2 of our terms and conditions of business….

Our entitlement to our fee is clear and beyond dispute. Therefore I again refer to my previous email, unless our interests are confirmed by your legal representative and that the conditions of our agreement with you are protected, see clause 7. Of the attached document, referring to your
“irrevocable instructions” then you will leave me with no alternative, irrespective of any initial personal cost to myself, I intend to claim full recovery of all costs. I will pursue a freezing order through the courts by close of business on Monday 5th August 2013 without any further recourse to you, this may involve you in considerable unnecessary additional expense of which no doubt your solicitor will advise.’

‘I think given the spurious nature of your response I am more than content to leave this to the lawyers and judges to adjudicate over the position. You may however be advised that I will be relentless in my pursuit of this by fair and legal means.’

‘As stated in my communication yesterday the matter has now been refereed to our company solicitors who have my instructions to proceed to protect my firms interest in this and to instigate the procedures for a freezing order.’

EVANS REPLY TO A FELLOW ESTATE AGENT WHO WAS ATTEMPTING TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE: ‘However we unfortunately appear to have very differing professional standards. Now let us address these differing professional standards. I will also deal with the expression ‘normal professional etiquette’. I am bewildered by your double standards, or should I in fact so no apparent standards at all, you have completely and utterly contradicted everything that you have previously held as credible and honourable. It reminds me of the old western movies, ‘cowboys’ speak with forktongue.’

‘My solicitors in New Zealand have been given my irrevocable instructions, that is to say, that in the event that you fail in anyway to comply with the order of the Courts then they are to enforce bankruptcy proceedings … immediately following the court deadline.’

‘Once again for the purpose of an absolute and unambiguous reply. If the liability is not discharged, as determined by the courts, then the lawyers in New Zealand Pitt & Moore have irrevocable instructions to implement bankruptcy proceedings forthwith.’

‘You continue to be deluded, you misrepresent yourself and, to their great misfortune, those who have endeavoured to advise to the point of embarrassment. You have had your time and will be granted no more, my instructions are irrevocable.’

EVANS DISSEMINATES FALSE, LIBELOUS AND DEFAMATORY MATERIAL COPIED FROM ACAM WEBSITES IN BREACH OF COPYRIGHT LAW: Evans spent his time trolling the web in an attempt to ‘dig up dirt’ on his ex-client.  We can only imagine his joy when he ‘thought’ he’d discovered gold.

What Evans had stumbled upon was an entirely false article published on a scam website owned by a competitor.

Evans then proceeded to copy and disseminate sections of that website in breach of copyright law and the rights of the website owner.

The website Evans copied is at the center of a huge scam extensively documented on the Internet.  Yet rather than do his research, Evans simply copied large sections of false, libelous and defamatory articles and emailed them out.

When the facts regarding the scam website were pointed out to Evans his reply was to state that he ‘was at the police station’.

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Witness statement

 IN THE COUNTY COURT AT SOUTHAMPTON  CLAIM NO xxxxx

BETWEEN

PENYARDS COUNTRY PROPERTIES LIMITED

Claimant

-v- 

(1) MR xxxxxx xxxxxx

(2) MRS xxxxxx xxxxxx

Defendants

WITNESS STATEMENT OF xxxxxx xxxxxx

I, xxxxxx JAMES xxxxxx will say as follows:

1               I am the First Defendant in this matter and make this statement in support of our application to set aside the Default Judgment dated 28 August 2014. Unless otherwise stated, the facts contained in this statement are within my own knowledge. Where this is not the case, I have stated the reason for my knowledge and belief.

2               There is now shown to me, marked Exhibit PJT1, a bundle of documents to which I shall refer. Numbers appearing in square brackets are references to page numbers in the exhibit.

Background

3               My wife and I instructed the Claimant to sell our property, xxxxxxxxxxxxx (“the Property”) by an agreement dated 19 February 2012. We agreed that we would pay the Claimant a fee calculated at 1.5% of the selling price of the Property.

4               On or before 14 August 2012, Penyards received an offer from a Mr Parker for the sum of £1.6 million. On 14 August, the Claimant’s Lisa Evans sent an email to my wife in relation to the offer from Mr Parker and stated “I have confirmed the deal” to Mr Parker’s partner by telephone [1].

5               The following day, the Claimant prepared a Memorandum of Proposed Sale [2] which confirmed a sale of the Property to Mr Parker for the sum of £1.6 million. The Memorandum was sent by email to my wife on 16 August [3].

6               However, by an email dated 22 August from Ms Evans to my wife [4], the Claimant advised that the sale had fallen through as Mr Parker had lost his own sale, on which he was dependant.

7               On 20 March 2013, my wife emailed Ms Evans [5] and requested that the Claimant withdraw the Property from the market immediately. The email further stated that it should be taken as written notice that we were cancelling our contract with the Claimant. About a month and a half later, we instructed new selling agents, Spencers, to market the Property on our behalf. This involved a new marketing campaign with the Property being offered for sale at £1.6 million.

8               On 2 July 2013, Ms Evans emailed my wife and I [6] to say that Mr Parker was now “potentially proceedable and remain[ed] interested”. Ms Evans was unsure if we were still selling the Property and she therefore said “Do let me know the situation and if you are it may be that we can resurrect something”. On 5 July, Ms Evans sent a further email to both me and my wife [7] in which she said that Mr Parker’s partner would like to arrange a further visit to the Property as they were once again in a proceedable position. The email went on to say that “whilst they would still be interested in pursuing xxxxxxx it would only be at significantly less than the offer that had been accepted last time. They or indeed I don’t therefore want to waste your time if your expectation on a sale figure is still at a similar level to last time”. The email concluded with the following: “I will look forward to hearing from you before I go any further with them”.

9               On 9 July, Ms Evans emailed us both again [8] and said that she was “continuing to keep talking” to Mr Parker’s partner, and that Mr Parker and his partner would be viewing “a number of properties throughout the course of tomorrow”. Ms Evans said that she felt Mr Parker remained interested in the Property. Crucially, she then went on to say “I remain hopeful there may still be a deal to be done albeit at the right price… my concern is we might not even get the opportunity to discuss this with them as they may commit to something else and we lose any opportunity”. It was therefore clear to me from Ms Evans’ email that there was no deal at that stage with Mr Parker and there was every possibility that he would purchase elsewhere.

10            On the same day, my wife replied by email to Ms Evans [9] to ask that all contact should be through our new agents, Spencers. Ms Evans’ response was that she had called Spencers but was confused as to why we wanted her to deal with them. The email contained a vague reference to the Claimant seeking payment of their fee, even though we had ended their contract some four months earlier.

11            I subsequently responded to the email, from my wife’s email account, the following day [10] in which I made it clear that the Claimant was not to communicate either with us or the Parkers further.

12            Ms Evans responded that day with a further email to us both [11]. She acknowledged that the Claimant was no longer instructed and went on to say “we have an extremely limited opportunity to try and negotiate something with a previously interested buyer who is now proceedable”. Once again, it was quite clear that no deal had been done with Mr Parker. As Ms Evans was not instructed by us, I have no idea on what basis she thought she had any authority to continue to discuss matters with Mr Parker and his partner, or indeed to contact us about the matter.

13            Subsequently, Mr Parker contacted Spencers and re-viewed the Property with them on 10th July. Initially, he made an offer to Spencers of £1.3 million. However, Spencers were able to negotiate the price with him and we eventually agreed a sale at £1.45 million and Mr Parker completed his purchase on 25 November 2013. However, the course of the negotiations did not go smoothly, I understand from Spencers, as there were several occasions when it appeared that Mr Parker would walk away from the Property. In my opinion, it was only thanks to the hard work of Rob Batten at Spencers that a deal was agreed and the sale completed. At all times, we left the Property on the market as we were concerned that the sale would not go through. As far as we are concerned, the terms eventually agreed with Mr Parker for the sale to him of the Property were substantially different from the terms proposed over fifteen months previously.

Court Proceedings

14            On 4 June 2014, my wife and I were handed a bundle of papers relating to these court proceedings. I was somewhat surprised to receive the papers. Whilst there had been some further email correspondence between me and Mr Evans of the Claimant in August 2013, and we also received letters from the Claimant’s solicitors dated 6 August 2013 [12-15], 4 September [16-18] and 24 September [19-20], we had not heard anything for nearly one year.

15            On behalf of my wife and I, I acknowledged the proceedings by sending an email on 6 June, within the 26 days set out in the Court Order dated 8 April 2014. I filed what I believed to be our Defence on 14 July, again by email, and received an automated email of acknowledgement from the court [21-22].

16            On or around 29 July, I received an email from the court requiring us to make some amendments to our Defence. Whilst I cannot find the email, I recall that it required us to add a statement of truth and to sign the document. On 1 September I sent a further email to the Court with an amended Defence [23-43], and also sent a copy by post. I received an automated response from the Court acknowledging receipt of my email and I therefor believed that the Defence had been filed.

17            I heard nothing further from the Court or the Claimant’s solicitors and assumed that the matter had been dealt with. I accept now that my assumption was naïve, but as a lay person, I thought at the time that the matter had been dealt with. It was only over the Christmas period when my wife and I went to visit friends who used to be neighbours that we were made aware that correspondence had been sent to our old address. Our former landlord handed us some post which included a copy of the Judgment that had been made against us. My wife and I realised that we would need to instruct UK lawyers to deal with the matter on our behalf. However, due to the Christmas and New Year break, we were unable to contact anyone until the start of the year. 

Merits of Defence

18            I believe that my wife and I have a good defence to the Claim because the Claimant did not introduce the buyer to the purchase. I understand that there are a number of cases dealing with estate agents’ claims for commission which have already been decided by the Court and, in particular, in the case of Foxtons Limited v Pelkey Bicknell, Lord Neuberger held that the buyer had to be introduced to the purchase and not just to the property.

19            The Claim is for a substantial amount of money and justice will not be served if we are denied the opportunity to defend the Claim. We are just seeking a fair hearing so that the issues we have raised can be fully considered.

Delay

20            I note from the papers that I have now seen that the Claimant’s solicitors sent a copy of the Judgment to me by email to xxxxxx@xxxxxx. I rarely use this email address due to problems with an overwhelming number of spam emails being sent to the address, which then led to most emails automatically going to the spam file. We have been having issues with this address for over a year. The main issue is that mails sent to it are undeliverable due to the extremely high spam filters that have had to be applied. Having looked at the server log files, by way of example, I can see that an ‘undeliverable notification’ was sent to Dutton Gregory in reply to an attempt to contact us on 24th September 2013. Therefore I was not aware of the Judgment as the email sent by Dutton Gregory had not come to my attention. As soon as my wife and I were aware of the on-going proceedings over the Christmas period, we made contact with lawyers in the UK. Unfortunately, the first firm that we contacted were unable to act for us, but recommended another firm to us. We were unable to instruct UK lawyers until the New Year and I therefore believe that we have acted as quickly as we can in the circumstances once the matter came to our attention.

Application

21            My wife and I ask the court to set aside the Judgment obtained in default, and also the Certificate issued by District Judge Lindsay Powell. We had no knowledge of the Judgment or the continuation or the Court proceedings until the Christmas break. Furthermore, for the reasons set out above I believe that the Claimant is not entitled to its fee and that we therefore have a real prospect of successfully defending the Claim.

Statement of Truth

I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.

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Letter to Evans Regarding Our Nightmare Campaign

Penyards Country Properties, Graham Evans and Our Nightmare!

It looks the time has finally come to take off the gloves Evans.  I’ve been as patient as a saint with you but your arrogance and ignorance seem to know no bounds. You’ve bullied and insulted everyone including your fellow professionals and we’ve had to endure your cancereous intrusion into our lives for years now.  I guess you’re used to getting your own way and have had a lifetime of treating decent, honest people with contempt in pursuance of it.

So, now we are where we are and this time you’ve bullied the wrong person.  I grew up in a hard industrial town fighting and beating bullies just like you and although we’re not using fists (unfortunately), I have other means at my disposal.

Perhaps if you’d done your job properly in the first instance we wouldn’t be here now!  In my opionion your team acted with utter incompetance treating our property as if it were their own to barter with at whim.  You were fired, get over it and look at the reasons why … learn from it and improve.  But no, you feel justified in leaching off the hard work of others and pursue us like a hungry dog for a fee you and I both know you absolutely do not deserve.

You have ignored all NAEA, TPO and industry guidelines making you what we consider a rogue agent – look up the meaning of rogue in the dictionary (as I remember you often need to refr to it!)

Through a combination of luck, lies and deceit you have managed to leverage your contract which according to the Unfair Contracts Act is illegal.  But that apparently is something for the courts to decide.

You have taken the action you have and continue to do so.  It seems that no matter what, you are set on your course of destruction and torment.  That is your choice but I promise you this Evans, if it takes me a year, two or ten, this is going to be with you for as long as it takes.  There simply is no place in this world for a bully.

You know I run a media and marketing company so I have a lot of weapons in my arsenal.  Fortunately, for us you’ve also supplied a huge amount of ammunition with your arrogant dialogue; stuff I’m sure everyone in Hampshire will be interested to read.

  • The new website goes live next week
  • A Google ads/facebook/seo campaign starts and will point people to it
  • Posts on a weekly basis to your Facebook and Twitter feeds starts next week
  • Starting soon each weekend someone will be in your towns of operation handing out leaflets in front of your offices and placing them on every car in every car park
  • Letters will be sent to all existing Penyards clients advising them to check their contracts and the potential consequences
  • The local press will be sent relevant articles and invited to monitor the campaign
  • We’ll lobby your local MP regarding the use of standard clause contracts and using our experience as an example continue to take this to every level
  • Articles on high traffic forums are already moving up the results of Google and within months search results for specific keywords will be flooded with links to those articles
Now before you go running back to your lawyers, this is not a campaign of liable and defamation. We’ll present a balanced and detailed series of articles detailing OUR experience with you and if it prompts potential clients to aviod the same fate then there’s only one person to blame.

You may have managed to rip me off at this point but don’t go out and party.

I am angry, very angry that you managed to secure a default judgment but that is history now.  That was a battle and this is the beginning of a war you started that won’t end well for either of us.  You?  Because every person in your areas of operation will have the opportunity to read about our terrible experience with you and perhaps will consider their options with regard to real estate.  Me, well I’m having to waste valuable time on you which is causing further issues.

But it is what it is and you’re creating a situation that I simply will not back down from. In time you will find yourself spending more and more time dealing with our campaign as it snowballs, which will take valuable resources that should be geared to building your business. In time you’ll look back on this opportunity to stop the harassment and hopefully wished you’d acted with a little more professionalism and humility.

‘Penyards is not just a business – it is a way of doing business. It has a style and a culture vastly different from that of our competitors, and even within the estate agency industry we are recognised as the ‘alternative country agent’. Our strongest belief however, is that our continued success owes its good fortune to one simple philosophy – in order to fully understand and responsibly represent our clients interests, in what at the end of the day is quite simply a commercial transaction, we must act as a business first and an estate agent second.

This is the time for evolution not revolution, but for businesses to take responsibility for their own destiny, time to stop complaining about the challenges of today’s hypercompetitive world and time to start focusing entirely on learning the skills required to enhance the odds of winning.’

You can stop this now. The choice is entirely yours because once we start next week there will soon be a point when there will be nothing even we can do to stop the campaign.

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