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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12195
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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The question relates to Scotland. We have obtained a Charge

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The question relates to Scotland.
We have obtained a Charge against a business, however we can not find out who owns the business. Employees of the business (which has now vacated its premises) give us names of varied Limited Companies as the owners, but Companies House will not act against these Companies as our Charge is in the name of the business, not any Limited Company. This would seem a double standard ,surely against the law, where a business is claiming the protection of limited status, but the Limited Company has none of the responsibilities. What is your suggestion for best way of recovering our money?
Thank you for your question. I am a solicitor and will try to help you with this.
Whilst it is competent to sue, obtain a decree and serve a charge against a business trading name, you do have to know who you have actually contracted with in the first place. Similarly you can't ask Companies House to stop due process against a number of companies when presumably only one will be your debtor.
Can you tell me how you arrived at this situation? What was the decree for? Was ther a contract? How did that arise?
Did the business you are pursuing have a Vat registration number? If so have you checked who that is registered to? Any further information by way of background would be helpful for me to try to help you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My Client, a building maintenance Contractor, was called out to local licensed premises on New Years day as there has been a ram raid style break in. He took instruction from the premises manager, and also from another gentleman he knew and whom he thought was the owner. He then issued an Invoice to the premises (Madisons) The premises manager told him he would be paid as soon as the insurance money came through. The premises closed for business at the end of July 2015, and moved to another locality, still trading as Madisons. As no payment had been received, Court proceedings were started in April 2015, the Charge finally being granted in August 2015. The Sheriff Officers have tried to serve the Charge on the new premises, but the people there (although the original premises manager and staff) claim to be owned by a new limited company. They also claim the original Madisons was owned by one or more Limited Companies, which are now in the process of being struck off. The Sheriff Officer will re-serve the Charge on the empty premises, but that still doesnt help much. We asked the Sheriff Officer to serve Charge on Drinks Licence Holder of the premises, but he said he couldnt. We would assume Madisons were VAT Registered, but as it was us who Invoiced them, and not the other way round, we dont have their Vat number. I am not sure how even if we could get that (say from a receipt) how this would lead us to the owner? The Drinks Licence Holder is the premises Landlord, but I am not sure we could argue his Lettings Company was liable , even though the premises manager applied for the Licence in his name, if the Sheriff Officer will not serve the Charge on him. We would have thought that the premisesmanager acted as his agent, but as the Charge is against the business, Madisons, he seems to be able to claim he was agent for whoever suits him at the time. For additional information, the Insurance Claim was withdrawn (there were large sums of cash claimed for which couldnt be substantiated), so yes, we can go down the criminal activity route, but that does not recoup my Clients £2400 or the £1000 fees so far laid out. We are also in a similar situation with freezing Bank accounts, unless the Bank account is held in the name of Madisons, but the Sheriff Officer is again not hopeful as he has struggled with this business before, when they did not pay Rates to the Council. The two Companies who have the premises as their registered address have "dummy" Directors who were either employees or relatives of the mam my Client thought was the owner. We had hoped to pressurise these people through Companies House, but they will only act if the Charge is in the name of the Limited Company. Can you point us in any positive direction as to what to do next?
A VAT receipt should have the name of the VAT registered entity.
However, I think you've been given the runaround here and you are chasing your tail trying to enforce the decree you have. I have no suggestion that would help short of asking the sheriff officers to check their debtors database to see if they can help or instruct an investigator.
In addition if "Madison's has moved premises but is still Madison's you could check with the licensing board which company holds the premises licence.
If all that fails, serve the charge on "Madison's", the trading name and hope that brings them out the woodwork.
Your only other alternative is to start again and sue the premises manager who instructed the work as an individual.
Those are my thoughts.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** my client hasn't been too clever in this, especially as he was aware of the people he was dealing with, and their history. He advises me that they dont register for VAT as they dont see the point! The Sheriff Officer will serve the Charge on the empty Madisons premises, and then we will attempt to freeze any Bank Accounts held in Madisons name. After that we will take up your suggestion to start again with the property manager who instructed the works, but before my client pays out more fees on this, we would have to ask what you think the percentage chance of success is, given that the invoice is made out to Madison's?
You are entitled to sue a trading entity in Scots law and the rules of court provide for it. For that reason irrespective of the company behinds the business, if Madison's is still trading, you should have a reasonable prospect of recovery. In percentage terms, and solely from what you say, it would be 60% or better.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry, my question was what are the chances of success of an action being successful against the property manager? Obviously he might not have any money, but would the Court be inclined to award against him as the Invoice is made out to Madisons?
A property manager is an agent. If he doesn't disclose who he was working for he can be made personally liable. He hasn't done so so your action against him would be successful. That is the law of agency.
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