Say you hire someone, such as an electrician or plumber, without price even being mentioned by either party. The contractor later bills you: you're taken aback by the price. Maybe the expected rate is £100 and you get charged £1000. More fool you, right? Fair enough.

But is there any practical limit in English law? £1,000,000, your house? Is there any reasonableness limit in law?

  • No, this isn't a pickle I find myself in personally!
    – Dannie
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


Yes, there is a reasonableness limit, and this is especially true in consumer transactions.

If you were given an estimate and the final bill is a lot more than what you were expecting, you can dispute it.

The final price should be ‘reasonable’. The law doesn’t say what counts as reasonable, so you’ll have to agree it between you. You should consider:

  • the estimate you agreed to [if there was one]
  • any changes, and why they happened
  • anything that happened that was beyond the control of the trader, like bad weather or the cost of materials going up


When it comes to work itself, the act states that a tradesman or professional has a 'duty of care' towards you and your property. Any standard or price you agree must be honoured. But if it isn't agreed in advance the work must be done to a reasonable standard, at a reasonable cost, and within a reasonable time.

So if you haven't fixed a price, you don't have to pay a ridiculously high bill. All you have to pay is what you consider 'reasonable' and invite them to sue you for the rest. Be careful though, in some circumstances when you are withholding payment you may have a claim made against you by a supplier if you are in breach of contract. What's a reasonable amount would be what similar tradesmen would have charged for the job. So get a few quotations.


NB that article refers to The Supply of Goods & Services Act 1982, which was partially superseded by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.


The contractor can charge what he wants, but if you are worried about it you can ask him to only preform services costing under million pound amount or whatever.

  • 1
    What happens when the contractor goes: "I have done a million points worth of work. I hope you enjoy that one door I installed." Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 2:16
  • You talk to them before hand.
    – Putvi
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 21:52

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