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Does the estimate have legal value?

Before receiving any performance or service, the professional is asked for a quote, sometimes provided in written form and other times communicated orally.
The estimate is important to know the costs in advance, understand if they are sustainable and make comparisons to save money.
In the simplest case, the customer accepts the quote and pays the amount due in exchange for the agreed service.
Nothing outside of what was agreed.
We know, however, that in reality things are very different and the inconveniences are commonplace.
The customer may change his mind and no longer want to receive the service or the professional may want to change the costs or conditions.
In short, the scenarios are very disparate and the parties find themselves facing quite a few inconveniences.
To know what protections are available (essentially the civil case), however, it is necessary to understand when the estimate has legal value.
The legal value of the estimate When the estimate is valid as a contract Is the estimate binding? Can the quote be changed? Can I withdraw from the quote? When the estimate is valid as a contract The estimate at a legal level is a contract proposal.
The professional undertakes to provide a certain service at a certain cost, with the appropriate conditions (for example, within a deadline).
At the beginning, therefore, the estimate is only a contractual proposal but it already anticipates an obligation: the proposer must offer that service under those conditions if the customer accepts by the deadline; in fact, the estimate acquires the value of a contract precisely when the customer accepts it.
This does not refer to simple knowledge or viewing of the estimate, but to actual acceptance.
The latter can happen in different ways, depending on the means used.
It can be a signature on the written estimate but also a conclusive behavior (such as leaving the car with the mechanic, letting the plumber into the house and so on).
Is the estimate binding? As anticipated, the estimate has the value of a contract from acceptance, provided that the latter occurs within the deadline.
From this moment, both parties are bound: one to pay the agreed fee and the other to perform the service.
Also because, otherwise, there would be no sense in this additional step existing.
As long as there has been no acceptance, however, the parties are free to change their minds.
The professional can deliver another quote (unless he has contractually committed to preserving the offer for a certain period) and the client can reject it (or ask for changes and so on).
Consequently, if one of the parties does not respect the commitment, he or she can be sued for compensation for the damage suffered and for performance (quantifiable in money).
This, however, is provided that the estimate has been accepted and that there are conditions for modifying or rejecting it.
read also Is a verbal agreement legal? Here's when it's valid (and when it's not) Can the quote be changed? From the moment in which we receive news of the acceptance of the estimate, the latter can no longer be modified except in some exceptions.
This is because contracts cannot be modified unilaterally, except when required by law or agreed between the contracting parties.
In detail, the estimate can be modified even after acceptance when: It contains an error recognizable by the counterparty (an excessively low price, misunderstanding regarding essential elements); in the execution of the procurement contract the cost of the work undergoes variations exceeding one tenth of the price, the estimate may be modified for the excess; in the execution of the procurement contract, in the event of "execution difficulties resulting from geological, water and similar causes" which make execution excessively onerous, the provider may additionally request fair compensation.
Therefore, the professional cannot change the price outside of these hypotheses, unless he has the customer's consent.
The latter therefore has the right to take legal action to obtain reimbursement of the amount unduly paid and compensation for damages suffered, as the case may be.
It is mentioned that lawyers, however, can add to the estimate all the sums due for issues that arise which make the defense more expensive.
read also Does the thumbs up really count as a signature? Can I withdraw from the quote? The contractual nature of the accepted quote is also binding for the customer, who however has a certain right of withdrawal, without prejudice to the obligation to pay for all services already received and any expenses incurred by the professional.
If the estimate contains a penalty, the client is required to pay it (unless the professional waives it).
The customer can therefore be sued for compliance with everything that has already been performed up to the withdrawal, for any compensation and for the penalty, if applicable.
It is then up to the judge to evaluate the specific case and the possible justification for the withdrawal (to determine the payment of the penalty).
read also Does the handshake have legal value?

Author: Hermes A.I.

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