Am I in the right demanding a client pays outstanding balance

9 months ago


I’m an interior designer in Ontario, Canada. I understand laws vary but I would appreciate some general guidance and I’m having payment issues with a client. to provide some background:

* Design stage was a separate agreement, for which last services were provided in January 2019. There’s an outstanding balance of %50 of the fixed fee provided.
* Construction stage started in February 2019 with the interior designers (me) providing project management services to supervise the progress while the client was out for town for the duration of the renovation
* Third parties (contractor, carpenter) were recommended by me and hired by the client (all parties provided separate quotes, and contracts) but payments were managed by me given the client wasn’t available.
* Third parties messed up and didn’t deliver in time and caused some damage in the process. I took care of minimizing complications, and provided solutions for damage and/or delays within the range of my possibilities
* There were still 2 outstanding items to take care of relate to the contractors mistakes. Initially I was not able to look after them as I was out of the country but later wasn’t able because the client is not in the city
* The client has reached out calling for further issues. Some of which I can confirm whether they were caused during construction or after
* I recognized my failure in the management area and the client was compensated with a discount to my total fees
* Client owes money both from the design stage (which has concluded) and from the construction and project management stage (which has 2 outstanding items)

MY questions is: Am I responsible to pay for the reparation cost that will be incurred due to these issues? Can the client keep on pilling more and more issues as my responsibility 6 months after construction? Can I continue charging the client for the management fees that would be incurred while I manage fixing these issues? Doesn’t the client has a responsibility to pay for the services that have been provided more than 6 months ago…even if there are outstanding revisions?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset
474 reviews

As you mentioned above, laws can vary quite a bit by location – and I’ve got very little experience with Ontario construction laws. For the most clarity on this issue, it’d be wise to consult a local Ontario construction attorney – they’ll be able to review the relevant project documents, look at other relevant circumstances, then advise on how best to proceed in your situation.

Generally, though, the price that will be owed for your work should be dictated by your contract – and, if the contract contains any provisions regarding discounts, back charges, or other fee reductions, then the terms of the contract should dictate how those instances should be taken care of. If the contract is silent on that front, then offers to reduce the price of the contract may or may not be binding – but, if a discount is offered, it’s generally a good idea to follow through with the offer.

What’s more, clients aren’t necessarily entitled to do whatever they want or cut payment by whatever amounts they like. Rather, if there’s a dispute over what should be paid, a claimant can always voice their opinions and objections. And, if need be, legal claims or construction liens may help to force a customer to pay what they owe. Though, before resorting to claims, it’s often a good idea to try and talk out the dispute to come to a reasonable understanding. And, sending documents like invoice reminders, demand letters, or Notices of Intent to Lien can help to push for payment before claims become necessary.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
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