SCROLL DOWN FOR PRESS ARTICLES:
JHA is pleased to announce it is representing motor trade entrepreneur Keith Elliott.
Businessman Mr Elliott, who once owned and ran one of the busiest car auction sites in the UK, is at the centre of a £55 million court case in which it is alleged a bank conspired with an accountancy firm to oust him from his own business and then buy it undervalue.
The former owner of Premier Motor Auctions has hired JHA to protect and represent his position before, during and after the trial as there is expected to be huge media interest around the case.
The contested High Court case brought by the Joint Liquidators alleges that Lloyds Bank conspired with accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) in 2008 to restructure the business in such a way that it ultimately forced Mr Elliott out of his own successful motor business.
It is claimed in the court papers that ousting Mr Elliott through a manufactured administration allowed PwC to make £450,000 in fees while at the same time allowed the private equity arm of Lloyds bank to take a stake in the business.
The claim against Lloyds Bank and PWC by Joint Liquidators from Menzies LLP alleges professional negligence, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, breaches of fiduciary and confidence and contractual duty, conspiracy to injure and/or causing injury and loss by unlawful means. Both Lloyds and PwC deny all the allegations against them and will fight them vigorously in court.
The case is being run by law firm Hausfeld & Co LLP and leading counsel Hugh Sims QC.
Both PwC and Lloyds deny any wrongdoing. PwC say they have 'acted properly throughout' moreover Mr Elliott's complaint 'seems to have been merely to cause annoyance and inconvenience'. Lloyds says it has ‘acted properly at all times' and the complaint 'has been looked at by the group at the highest level'
PRIVATE EYE, AUGUST, 2016
IT IS hard enough for a business that gets taken down by a bank to raise sufficient funds to sue. And even when it does, as a high court hearing last week showed, the bank will do everything it can to avoid even having to defend the case.
Back in 2009 Eye 1248 first reportedhow businessman Keith Elliott lost his profitable Leeds car auction company, Premier Motorauctions. When, the year before, he had sought a non-executive director to help with expanding the business, his bank, Lloyds,
recommended a financial adviser named IrvingWarnett from the local office of Britain’s biggest beancounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers. He would be a “critical friend”, he assured Elliott.
Within weeks Warnett had arranged a full financial review and the business was
transferred into Lloyds’ Business Support Unit, its equivalent of RBS’s now infamous Global Restructuring Group. The bank, which had charges over company assets, set about selling the business with the help of PwC.
In the meantime Elliott lined up a new investment package that would avert the
administration process Lloyds and PwC envisaged and thus keep the business continuing in good health.
He presented the deal to PwC only for it not even to be considered. He maintains it was
not forwarded to Lloyds and that the bank and PwC had already decided on a deal that would suit both of them very nicely. Sure enough, the bank and PwC swiftly put Premier into administration, with the administrators being… PwC.
The beancounters’ “business recovery services” division went on to earn £450,000 from the job under the direction of partner Ian Green, who happened to be the boss of Irving Warnett – the supposedly independent adviser. Very cosy.
It has since emerged that, unknown to Elliott, PwC and Lloyds had lined up another arm of the bank, Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), to buy the company and that the official allocated to “looking after” Premier in the Business Support Unit, Stuart Atkinson, was also in charge of the “sell team” that flogged businesses to LDC.
Premier was duly placed into administration and its assets sold off with Lloyds taking an interest. Elliott has been seeking redress for years for what he sees as the theft of his business. He appealed to the Lloyds board – including intervening at last year’s AGM – and to PwC’s senior partners, who said he was just causing inconvenience and annoyance.
After a long struggle, Elliott managed to get liquidators appointed who would seek redress
against PwC and Lloyds and they began action for £55m in damages last year. Now the bank and accountancy firm have sought to put the case off on the grounds that, should they win, they might not get paid. This is despite the liquidators having secured £5m in litigation insurance from backers who evidently think there is a strong case.
PwC and Lloyds tried last week to persuade a judge that the policies might not pay out if
there had been misrepresentation (as with most insurance policies). They presented no evidence that this had happened or was even feasible.
Elliott should get his day in court eventually,
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH- July 24th, 2016:
Lloyds and PwC are set to defend a multimillion-pound professional negligence claim brought by a defunct car auctions business after the case had its first airing in court last week.
The joint liquidators of Premier Motor Auctions, which was owned by businessman Keith Elliott, claim that Lloyds and PwC “conspired” to oust Mr Elliott from his business and undervalue it.
Premier Motor Auctions had been profitable, but in April 2008 a proposed sale for the company fell through at around the same time that loan repayments for money which had been provided by Lloyds were due.
The claimant said that when “cash-flow difficulties” arose as a result of this, a PwC employee who was recommended to Mr Elliott by Lloyds advised the businessman that the company required significant additional borrowing.
This was provided by the bank on condition that the business was sold through an administration.
Premier Motor Auctions claims the PwC employee was introduced under false pretences, and that he was “used by the bank to obtain an internal assessment of the company’s affairs”. The business alleges that it was negligently advised, and claims the PwC employee was working as an agent for the bank under a conflict of interest. Both Lloyds and PwC deny the allegations.
Two takeover deals were subsequently offered for the business which Premier Motor Auctions said would have avoided an administration but in not agreeing to these offers, the bank breached its contract and chose to prioritise acquiring an equity interest Mr Elliott’s business rather than its role as lender to him, the claimant alleged this week.
Mr Elliott told The Sunday Telegraph: “I’d built the business up from nothing but then Lloyds introduced me to PwC and before I knew it I lost control of my own company, was shunted out and it was forced into administration.”
Premier Motor Auctions now trades through Scottish Motor Auction Group.
Last week’s hearing was for an application to protect Lloyds’ and PwC’s costs.
A spokesperson from PwC said: “PwC acted properly in dealing with this matter. Proceedings have been issued by the liquidator of Premier Motor Auctions which PwC will defend vigorously as they are totally misconceived.”
A spokesperson for Lloyds said: “Mr Elliott’s allegations have been reviewed extensively over a number of years at the most senior levels within the bank. Mr Elliott has involved regulators, law enforcement and media; and has asked questions at annual general meetings and made regular complaints to senior group colleagues.
“As a result, the matter has been rigorously examined internally, as well as by a number of outside parties. No evidence of any wrong doing has been identified by any party to date.”
The case is expected to be heard in full next year.