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I received a bill for labor and material at the end of Feb. 2012 for a project done in Oct. and Nov. 2008.

Escanaba, MI |

I feel the bill is excesive and would like to use the untimely submission of the invoice as a reason to pressure the contractor to reduce the amount of the bill. No contract was written or signed. Any basis or leverage?

Attorney Answers 2


Obviously, there had to be some kind of agreement. If it was not written, then the practical problem is proving the terms of the contract. It is not reasonable to wait for two years to send you a bill, but I do not see how that would have prejudiced YOU. You are not paying more than you would have, because of the delay.

I do not understand why the bill would be excessive, if you agreed to the earlier terms. If there was no ultimate price term agreed to, then that would be a different story.

The bottom line is, if the work was done, then you owe them for what was done. There would be undue enrichment if you were allowed to enjoy the benefits of the agreement without having to compensate the contractor for the work. The leverage you have is that the work was done and you have the money in your pocket. In order to get the money if you are not cooperative, the contractor would need to take you to court.

In order to avoid taking that route, they may be willing to negotiate with you. But I do not think you have any grounds to force them to accept less, merely because they were late in invoicing you. You have benefited from their tardiness by being able to keep your money and invest it, while they were out of pocket for work and materials. Absent some sort of discrepancy in what they are charging versus what you agreed to, I think you should simply pay them.

James Frederick

I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.

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If the bill is clearly excessive call and complain... late submission will look bad if you ultimely refuse to pay and they have to go to court to enforce it. So if you offer them immediate payment of part and they agree to a settlement they may accept.

Answering this question with general knowlege of the law does not create an attorney client relationship and attorney cannot be held responsible for how the questioner uses this information.

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