I quoted for a painting and decorating job and the quote was accepted by the customer.  The customer then asked me to supply the materials that she was originally going to supply.  We agreed that I would supply the materials at an additional cost to the quotation and everyone was happy.

However, I have just received an email from the customer to say that her usual painter and decorator could now fit her in, so she would no longer be requiring my services.  However, I have already ordered and paid for the materials she requested and because the materials are special order I cannot return them or use on any other jobs.  Can I request that she pays for these materials and where do I stand in the future on customers accepting quotes and then cancelling?  Many thanks in anticipation.

Ken, Somerby


You and your customer have entered into a binding contract for you to carry out certain painting and decorating works (as stated in your quotation), and in return your customer has agreed to pay the sum quoted.  You and your customer are therefore bound by the terms of the contract and a breach by either party could result in the innocent party claiming its losses.

Under a contract, there are three types of terms – warranties, conditions and innominate terms.  A warranty is a minor term of a contract and if breached, the innocent party may claim damages arising from the breach, but is not entitled to end the contract.  A condition is a major term which goes to the root of the contract and if breached, the innocent party is entitled to repudiate and end the contract.  Innominate terms lie between warranties and conditions.

In stating that your services are no longer required, this would be a breach of a condition which would entitle you to accept the wrongful repudiation (you will need to reply to your customer’s email to say that this is a repudiatory breach of which you are accepting), and bring the contract to an end, the result of which would entitle you to claim for any work done (including the materials that you have purchased), plus any loss of profit.

Michael Gerard

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