Construction Law/retention money


Hello John,
         I was a contractor for one of the biggest service companies in U.K, they took retention money, After 10 yrs I retired, waited for 12 month to pass then requested remainder of retention money. After supplying all the information they asked for, they are saying they have no record of me working for them.
( They repaid some over 12 moths ago). This P.L.C. was taken over by another company.( Not through bankruptcy).
Are they bound to pay me??
how long can they continue to delay payment?
         kind regards

         Robert Kay

Dear Robert,

Thank you for this question.

In short, yes they are obliged to pay you; but in view of the fact they have no evidence of your prior engagements with the original company, what can you produce to show your claim to the retention money?

I presume that you were issued payment certificates, which ought to have shown all deductions made. Those certificates and your records of payments ought to suffice to establish a prima facie claim. If you had contracts, even better.

The fact that the original company has been taken over is not an issue outside of bankruptcy; the purchaser should have assumed the liabilities and obligations of the original company. Any issue about the liability to pay you ought to be between the original company and its purchaser.

As to how long they can withhold payment, did you have a contract for each project you worked on? Those documents would be my starting point. Otherwise I suggest you look at your trading history with the original company and argue on a prior dealing/"custom and practice" basis.

I hope that this assists you.

Kind regards,
John Dowse

Follow me on Twitter: @CernoOrg
For my regular industry newsletter e-mail to, stating SUBSCRIBE in the subject line

Training and consulting services are available, bespoke to companies and individuals.
John Dowse can be contacted by e-mail to (When e-mailing, please include “AllExperts” in the subject line.)

Construction Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


John Dowse


Legal; contract interpretation; quantum; delay analysis. Practitioner in arbitration, adjudication and mediation.


Thirty-three (33) years experience in building and construction, at all levels both within contracting and consulting organisations. Practising arbitrator, adjudicator, and mediator. Faculty approved trainer for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Lecturer on construction contract forms and dispute resolution practices.

Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Institute of Directors Society of Construction Arbitrators

Various UK and International construction and legal publications.

LLB (Hons), Pg Dip (Legal Practice), MCInstCES MCIArb MIOD Barrister

©2017 All rights reserved.