Who remembers announcing to their peers or family members ‘I’m going on the internet’, likewise the dial tone your PC would make during the 10 to 15 minutes it took to get a connection?

I’m going back to a time when mobile phones were like bricks and the infamous ‘Yuppy Love’ Only Fools and Horses episode was aired when Del Boy fell through the bar hatch. I remember the excitement of receiving an email and our Yellow Pages directory being left on the door step because it was 3 inches thick.

Back then if you required a plumber, electrician or a solicitor you would search your Yellow Pages. This is despite the internet being invented in 1983. Nowadays a website is an integral part of any business enabling you to convey your brand and sell your goods or services to a wider audience. We all seek first page positioning and dabble in social media. However, building a website is still very much considered a ‘black art’ a professional service shrouded in mystifying technology, terms and technique.

Therefore, detecting early signs that something is going wrong with your agreement, timescale or design can be unforeseen without the benefit of hindsight. Excuses may be considered reasonable and trusting such a professional is understandable.

It is always important, as with any service agreement that you keep records of your communications. It has been reported that 30% of web design agreements have no written contract, whilst 60% have no written timescale. You also need to ensure you keep a record of emails, meetings and phone calls. I personally have a notebook on my desk and will jot down things that have been agreed. You could also ask your service provider to confirm the conversation with an email. Equally, although I’m probably preaching to the converted, you should read several reviews and research your web developer beforehand.

But let’s say you have done all that but despite this your web developer has failed to deliver. What can you do to resolve the issue or get your money back? Our senior disputes solicitor Edward Powell explains:

“When in dispute with a web developer it is important to ask yourself what you want and make that clear to the other side. Some people are happy with a discount on the total fees to reflect delays and dissatisfaction.  Others are happy to pay the full price as long as it is delivered in full by a set date.

The most common area for a dispute that I advise on is delay. The law does allow for delays in development so even if a fixed date is in the contract you may not be able to force a developer to comply with that date.  If the date is of great importance (for example if you are launching a new brand or product) you should make sure “time is of the essence” when discussing a website and include those words in any written agreement.  Some developers will agree at the outset to pay damages for delays but then the argument normally arise where the developer says they are waiting for information from the customer and are therefore not a fault for the delays.

Both sides in a dispute usually have the option of issuing court proceedings but it is often faster and cheaper to employ a mediator to help resolve a dispute.  A web developer’s standard terms and conditions (if any form part of the contract) may have a clause requiring the parties to try and settle a dispute through alternatives to court proceedings.

When I am acting for clients seeking to reclaim monies paid to web developers it is important to ask if they are “good for the money.” “You can’t get blood from a stone” is an old adage which rings just as true in the internet age.  It is better to agree stage payments over the course of a websites developments to avoid being heavily out of pocket and attempting to get money back from a company that has already spent it on staff and other overheads.”

Dispute Solicitors in Colchester

The value attached to this project along with personal and professional considerations may be factors on whether or not to take legal action, however Attwells Solicitors do offer a case assessment. You can make an appointment to visit our Colchester office or arrange a phone meeting. We will consider the merit of your case at this time and may ask you to bring a copy of your contract, along with an outline of key moments. Attwells will always offer you an honest assessment of your case outlining the process, including legal fees and any implications going forward. This information will be presented to you in a form of a letter a few days after your visit. This will give you time to consider your position.

For more information on commercial disputes or to book an appointment please visit our website www.attwells.com or call Edward on 01206 239755.