I have been asked to look at this for you as it’s more of my area.
Notwithstanding the closure of the police investigation, do you believe that you have enough evidence to take the managers of the civil court? For example, was he the only one who had access to this money and therefore, if it has gone missing, it must be him?
If the manager set this up at the club and even though he did it on his own, if it was done with the clubs knowledge and anyone investing in the Christmas club would believe that it was part of the servicemen’s club then although you are saying it’s not part of the servicemen’s club, I think that if it went to court because find that the servicemen’s club was vicariously liable for the actions of its employees (the manager) which would include administration of the Christmas club.
This depends of course whether any of the individuals or even all the individuals collectively are prepared to issue Small Claims Court proceedings against the club and the manager.
In my opinion, the deciding issue here would be whether the contributors to the Christmas club reasonably thought they were investing in something wrong by the servicemen’s club.
If they did, then apart from any moral obligation, then legally, the Servicemen’s club would be liable because they allowed this to happen under their banner.
I imagine this is probably not the answer you wanted but if it got to court I think the court would find that the Servicemen’s Club had to indemnify (pay up).
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