Harrison Black Associates Ltd and Hayden Moss Associates Ltd were ordered into liquidation by the High Court on 1 March for misleading almost 100 small businesses into paying for services to challenge business rate valuations.
The winding-up of the two companies follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service, which found the companies’ agents told prospective clients they were likely to be successful in obtaining a business rate revaluation of their premises.
The investigation found clients were required to pay an upfront fee ranging from £495 plus VAT to £2,500 plus VAT, and were promised that a professional survey of their premises would be undertaken to support the business rate valuation appeal.
Between May 2014 and June 2015, at least 91 businesses signed agreements with the companies. There was no evidence to show that Harrison and Hayden were ever successful in obtaining a positive business rate re-valuation for a client and few clients were ever visited by a surveyor acting for the companies.
In addition, the investigation found that there was a deliberate use of dishonest and misleading statements to prospective clients; that the companies had used false documentation to obtain payment from clients; that the companies failed to produce company documents to the investigators and failed to make adequate provision to meet ‘money back guarantees’ provided to clients totalling over £54,000.
Alex Deane, Investigation Supervisor, said:
These companies took advantage of businesses anxious to reduce costs, but simply made matters worse for them. The directors of such companies should be aware that the Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies, and directors, that mislead the public in this way.
Notes to editors
Harrison Black Associates Ltd (Company No. 08978150) was incorporated on 04 April 2014. Its registered office is at 83 Ducie Street, Manchester, M1 2JQ.
Hayden Moss Associates Ltd (Company No. 09523970) was incorporated on 02 April 2015. Its registered office is at 40 Bank Street, London, E14 5NR.
Both companies traded from the residential addresses of their sole director, Sarah Elizabeth White. When dealing with clients Ms White used the alias Sarah Regan.
The petitions to wind-up Harrison Black Associates Ltd and Hayden Moss Associates Ltd were presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 08 January 2016. The companies were wound up on 01 March 2016. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator of each company.
Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Further information about live company investigations is available.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2nd Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN. Tel: 0161 234 8531 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Published: 4 March 2016
From: The Insolvency Service