I have a dispute with my archive storage company

My archive storage company have been overcharging me and now want £12k to release my documents to me

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We have been with the same storage company for a number of years, and have been underserved and overcharged. I now want to move my archive storage and they want to charge me £12k exc VAT to perm out and validate. 

What can we do, as they have our records? Do we have a right to retrieve them?

In terms of the contract, I have asked for a copy but never received one

Replies (21)

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By cheekychappy
04th Jan 2017 16:15

This is not a legal forum.

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Replying to cheekychappy:
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By jasonowsky
04th Jan 2017 16:24

Indeed not, but as accountants store client records, and accountants have records stored for them, it's of enough relevance for accounting web I would have thought. Thanks for your input though

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Replying to jasonowsky:
By cheekychappy
04th Jan 2017 16:46

You don't have the contract. You don't say what your usual charges. You don't say how you have ascertained that you have been overcharged.

What advice are you looking for?

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Replying to cheekychappy:
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By jasonowsky
04th Jan 2017 16:54

The question is whether I have the right to retrieve my own files from storage, in the event of the dispute. It could be £12k or £50k, the question would still be the same. Hence why my usual charge is completely irrelevant. I'm not asking on people to comment on whether the £12k charge is correct. There is a dispute, can I go in and get my files?

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Replying to jasonowsky:
By cheekychappy
04th Jan 2017 16:58

jasonowsky wrote:

The question is whether I have the right to retrieve my own files from storage, in the event of the dispute. It could be £12k or £50k, the question would still be the same. Hence why my usual charge is completely irrelevant. I'm not asking on people to comment on whether the £12k charge is correct. There is a dispute, can I go in and get my files?

The answer is that it depends. Keeping holding of contracts is generally a good idea.

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Replying to cheekychappy:
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By jasonowsky
04th Jan 2017 17:05

Yes, but not all my predecessors were as good as I am at that. Thanks for all your help on this.

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By petersaxton
04th Jan 2017 16:31

Go to a lawyer. I think you have a good case from the limited information you provide. I'm amazed that you think anybody can judge whether £12k is reasonable if you don't say what your usual periodic charges are.

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Replying to petersaxton:
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By jasonowsky
04th Jan 2017 16:52

Thank you for your response and apologies if the original post didn't make it clear the advice needed isn't whether it's a fair charge or not, it's about the right to retrieve files. The £12k mentioned was just to show it's not a petty dispute.

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By morgani
04th Jan 2017 17:33

No idea whetehr you can retrieve the files or not. You reallty need a solicitor but ultimately they will want to see a contract. Maybe they can help to obtain one.

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By bernard michael
05th Jan 2017 11:14

Were you thinking of breaking in and retaking your files or going to court to seek an order for their production.
If the former - not recommended
if the latter you need a solicitor

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Replying to bernard michael:
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By jasonowsky
05th Jan 2017 11:55

Clearly, we will not break in to get our files. I didn't know whether we had an automatic right to our records without the need for a court order.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
05th Jan 2017 11:36

The ability to retain stored items against payments due is likely to be in the contract. The amount they are allowed to charge for closing out the unit is likely to be in the contract. Why did you enter into such a vital arrangement for your business without a copy of the contract?

You may be thinking that accountants have to hand over certain records regardless of fee disputes. As the storage company is simply holding the records as items stored, not as a professional adviser, that may well not apply here. Only a lawyer will be able to answer that for you.

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By jasonowsky
05th Jan 2017 12:00

Thanks a lot for that reply, yes, i was thinking that we might have a right even in dispute, but there probably is a distinction between professional advisers and storage companies, so legal route may be the only option .

I am sure when people that worked there before me entered into agreement, there was a contract. They just didn't keep it and unfortunately I'm the one untangling everything!

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By petersaxton
05th Jan 2017 12:12

It really does depend on what the contract says. If the relationship has broken down then I suppose they wouldn't want to let you have access to the files if you are just going to take them and then refuse to pay the closing fee. If the yearly charge is £500,000 then £12,000 to end a ten year contract is reasonable.

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By DP Legal Services
05th Jan 2017 14:41

The only way a company can retain your property is by means of placing a lien upon it. A lien is not lawful unless it is formally registered with a court, if not then you are entitled to the immediate return of your property.

If you can demonstrate that being denied access to your property may affect your business it is very likely that the court will order the company to hand over the property immediately. Any claim they think they have against you being a separate issue which they should have taken to court.

In any event any property belonging to third parties, such as a client, cannot legally be held under a lien and refusal to hand it back to the client would constitute theft.

My advice would be to go to court as quickly as possible, before the storage company file any claim, and get an order for the return of your property.

Then sit back and see whether or not they are silly enough to file a claim. Unless they can prove that you agreed to their terms by signing a contract they have no case, and even if they can prove that they still have to convince the court that their terms are reasonable.

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Replying to DP Legal Services:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
05th Jan 2017 16:36

Big Yellow storage company beg to differ:

"18. If You do not make Prompt Payment of Your Debt, You agree that:
18.1 the Goods are left in the Room at Your sole risk;
18.2 without limiting Condition 18.1 or 39 or 40,
We exclude any liability in respect of the
Goods when payment of Our Licence Fees or
charges is overdue; and
18.3 We may immediately exercise the lien
described in this Licence (in particular in Condition 19)."

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By jasonowsky
05th Jan 2017 17:34

Thanks for your effort on this....it's getting to the legal technicalities so we better leave it there! Thanks for all your help

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By DP Legal Services
05th Jan 2017 18:31

A lien is not lawful unless specifically registered with the court with full details of the reasons for said lien. Further -

1) It will not be enforceable where the court is satisfied that it may unreasonably interfere with the ongoing business of the subject of the lien.

2) It is illegal if it interferes with the ability of any person to properly comply with their legal responsibilities to calculate their liability and pay tax etc.

3) It is illegal where the subject of the lien is the property of a 3rd party (namely the accountant's client).

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Replying to DP Legal Services:
By cheekychappy
05th Jan 2017 16:47

DP Legal Services wrote:

The only way a company can retain your property is by means of placing a lien upon it. A lien is not lawful unless it is formally registered with a court, if not then you are entitled to the immediate return of your property.

If you can demonstrate that being denied access to your property may affect your business it is very likely that the court will order the company to hand over the property immediately. Any claim they think they have against you being a separate issue which they should have taken to court.

In any event any property belonging to third parties, such as a client, cannot legally be held under a lien and refusal to hand it back to the client would constitute theft.

My advice would be to go to court as quickly as possible, before the storage company file any claim, and get an order for the return of your property.

Then sit back and see whether or not they are silly enough to file a claim. Unless they can prove that you agreed to their terms by signing a contract they have no case, and even if they can prove that they still have to convince the court that their terms are reasonable.

I disagree.

https://www.dwf.law/news-events/dwf-press/2012/08/starvp-liens-what-they...

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Replying to cheekychappy:
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By DP Legal Services
05th Jan 2017 18:25

What are your legal qualifications? I have no problem supplying mine. Perhaps you should rely less on dubious internet puff and more on real world knowledge and experience.

I would also suggest that you refrain from using such offensive terminology.

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Replying to DP Legal Services:
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By jasonowsky
05th Jan 2017 17:32

Thanks a lot

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