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Brian Maggs (t/a BM Builders) v Guy Marsh

While the court might not look at subsequent conduct in construing a written contract, where an agreement was partly oral and partly written, subsequent conduct might be examined to help determine the parties' original intentions.

14 July 2006

The appellant (M) appealed against the judge’s decision ordering him to pay a sum to the respondent builder (B) over work done at M’s premises. Following B’s submission of an estimate of the cost of refurbishment of M’s house, the parties had reached an oral agreement for work to go ahead. A list attached to the estimate described the items of work only briefly. Once work had commenced, M gave further instructions to B to undertake additional items of work. B submitted interim invoices to which lists of the work done were attached. When the work was completed, B submitted a final invoice. M disputed the bill on the basis that many of the extra items invoiced had formed part of the original agreement and been paid within the contract price. B issued proceedings against M seeking recovery of sums due. The judge had to determine what items of work had been included under the original agreement and, consequently, the extent of the evidence he could rely on when making that deter...

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