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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I purchased some shelving from a business (sole trader not

Customer Question

I purchased some shelving from a business (sole trader not limited company) that had closed down leaving debts. However, it now transpires that their were three partners in the business and only two of them were happy with the sale on the businesses behalf. The third business partner, who is also the landlord, says that the shelves actually belonged to him personally and not to the business itself even though the business has used them since 2006. I have looked at the lease and the partnership agreement between the three and there is nothing that mentions the shelves as being sole property of the landlord such as an inventory list. Although it is clear that he owned them before the three went into business together. I even asked him before the purchase if he was happy to sell them and he stated that he had no interest in associated matters (replying to my purchase of the shelving).
I only purchased them as it meant that the creditors would get some money from the sale of a business asset. I am now stuck in the middle of a legal spat. His lawyer is saying that the landlord was not a partner and even if he was the shelves were being used with his permission only and were not owned by the business.
I think he is just trying to keep assets of the business for his own gain. Surely he would need to provide some formal proof that he only lent the items to the business but they were still his property given that he is a partner on the bank accounts, on the partnership agreement and in various dealings since its inception. There is nothing on the lease or anywhere else and he is now demanding the shelves back even though I have a purchase agreement for them and spent good money.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** will help you with this.
Alex Watts : What is it you would like to achieve?
JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

I'm not sure how to answer that question, if the goods are actually his then so be it I will give them back but it feels like they are not given everything that I have looked at so far. If I rented a house and then left some stuff in it at the end of the term the landlord would be entitled to keep it, sell it or whatever. Surely if these guys rented the premises and the stuff is left there and it is not listed on an inventory or mentioned anywhere else in any form of agreement then the same rules would apply. They are paying rent and he is just expecting to store his fridges and shelves and freezers and desks etc. that's rubbish surely. He cant say it still belongs to him 6 years later. The other partners are of a view that those items were part of his contribution to the partnership. The business failed and it owes money, they are selling its assets to clear the business debts how is thatwrong and why should I loose out?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

I would like to know what legislation would cover this kind of situation. This guy has a reputation for scaring people with letters from lawyers and just walking away with their money or stuff or whatever. Its just not right surely :(

Alex Watts :

Has he provided any proof?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

proof of what exactly?

Alex Watts :

Of ownership of shelving?

Alex Watts :

You purchased it, do you have a receipt?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

it is clear that he bought the shelving in 2006 but there is no trail of what has been happening to them since then

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

my view would be that he has simply left them at the shop as part of his contribution to the partnership

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

surely he cant just leave them there for 6 years with no paperwork to say that they are his and then simply step in and say he wants them back?

Alex Watts :

Yes but you have a receipt or evidence of payment?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

Yes I think it is reasonable that he paid for them in 2006, that could not be in question.

Alex Watts :

But when you purchased them you have evidence?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

sorry are you refering to me having evidence of MY purchase of the shelves from the business?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

sorry, yes i have a purchase agreement

Alex Watts :

When did he 'lend' them to the business?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

he is aware of my desire to purchase them and at the time of purchase I wrote to him and asked him to confirm that he was happy to sell them. His lawyer stated that he had "no interest in stock and associated matters". I then went back again and he said the same thing.

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

he knew I was buying them and made no effort to claim ownership at that time

Alex Watts :

You have this in writing?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

in an email from his lawyer yes

Alex Watts :

Ok - then I do not think it is an issue.

Alex Watts :

He knew your interest, he said he was not bothered about them

Alex Watts :

One would have expected at that stage he said, oh no, they are mine

Alex Watts :

He did not,

Alex Watts :

You went onto purchase them

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

I have sent his lawyer this information and he says it is irrelevant, that he was not referring to the shelving he was refering to the stock. But he knows how much I paid and that figure included the shelving in the calculation

Alex Watts :

He has not shown proof of ownership or that it was lent to the business

Alex Watts :

Therefore on this basis I think there is no claim

Alex Watts :

If there is it is between the ex partners and him

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

the calculation was clear

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

is the interference with goods act relevant here?

Alex Watts :

No, because one would have expected an objection far earlier on

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

I cannot find any legal reference to what happens when a premise is leased and the landlord leave property on the site

Alex Watts :

It would have been reasonable to object when he knew your interest

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

i get that logic it is where i started from, however, do I have any legal cover for that assumption

Alex Watts :

Yes because in effect he gave up his right. But in any event he has not provided proof he owns it and not provided proof that he lent it to the company

Alex Watts :

The burden is on HIM to show this

Alex Watts :

Not you to disprove it

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

So the burden of proof of ownership is his? can I insist on seeing a legal document / contract. The fact that he bought themin 2006 is not sufficient proof that he owns them now.

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

I took the view that when he determined the "he had no interest in stock or associated matters" that he essentially made the other partners bailee in respcet of those goods and they were free to dispose of them as they say fit.

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

hence my consideration of the interference of goods act

Alex Watts :

Yes all burden is on him

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

although as i say they maintain that these goods were his contribution to the partnership

Alex Watts :

He still needs to prove all this.

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

can I insist on a legal document or can he just say that he lent them and thats the end of the conversation?

Alex Watts :

He can't just say he lent them. If it went to Court he would have to PROVE it

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

i know im labouring the point but can he rely on a verbal contract if one existed which I am told it did not. It would come down to his word against the other partners and as third party I would be kind of stuffed and he WILL claim costs against me if I fail in court

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

he has a lot of moeny and I do not :)

Alex Watts :

If there is a verbal contract he would need EVIDENCE of this, ie the person he agreed it with

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

that is what I figured :)

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

sorry to be a pain here I know you want to head off. This is a small thing but its important to me and could crucify my business. Many thanks for your time :)

Alex Watts :

Indeed.

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you about this?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

I think you have gone above and beyond allready :)

Alex Watts :

Thanks. Can I help with anything else today?

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

you can wish me luck :) he really does not like to loose

JACUSTOMER-onm0tkvy- :

he has a lot of money and a lot of lawyers

Alex Watts :

Good luck of course.

Alex Watts :

If I could ask you to rate my answer before you go today - the button should be at the bottom of the screen

Alex Watts :

If you need more help please click reply

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

You asked when he "lent" the goods to the business. This was back in 2006. Does the period of time have any relevence. I need all the arguments i can get?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
There may be an issue of limitation.
Alex

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