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Companies Forced into Liquidation After Misleading Customers on Business Rate Appeals

Written by: Keith Tully

Reviewed: Monday 7th March, 2016

Two companies operated by the same person have been forced into liquidation after an Insolvency Service investigation found their practices to have been deliberately misleading to client companies.

Harrison Black Associates and Hayden Moss Associates were registered in Manchester and London respectively but both were operated by their sole director Sarah Elizabeth White.

The two companies offered services to customers on the basis of business rate expertise and claimed that they would likely be able to secure revaluations of business rates in relation to specific properties.

Client companies were charged anywhere from £495 plus VAT to £2,500 plus VAT upfront with assurances given that their properties would subsequently be surveyed with a view to potentially having their business rates reduced through the relevant appeals process.

However, through its investigations, the Insolvency Service established that there was no evidence that either of the companies had ever been successful in securing business rate reductions for any businesses who paid for these services.

It was revealed too that the two companies, which were apparently both set and run up by Ms White, gave money-back guarantees that they had no means of honouring.

More than 90 businesses are understood to have signed agreements with either Harrison Black Associates or with Hayden Moss Associates between May 2014 and June 2015.

In light of the Insolvency Service’s findings, a case was brought before the High Court in London and a ruling made that effectively ordered the two companies to be wound up and entered into immediate liquidation.

“These companies took advantage of businesses anxious to reduce costs, but simply made matters worse for them,” said Alex Deane, an investigation supervisor from the Insolvency Service.

“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.”

Last month an Insolvency Service investigation saw the High Court force an interconnected group of 15 English construction and civil engineering firms into liquidation after it was established that they were all set up and operated primarily as “instruments of fraud”.

Keith Tully

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Keith has been involved in Business Rescue since 1992, during which time he’s worked for both independent and national firms. His specialties include company restructuring matters and negotiating with HMRC on his clients behalf.

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