UNFAIRPAK PAYPAL APPEAL

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2.  Click on “Send Money”.

3.  Then enter our PayPal email which is info@unfairpak.co.uk and the amount you  wish to donate.

 

Your donation will help Farepak victims buy the transcript of the Farepak Hearing and get to the bottom of the bank’s (HBOS) conduct.  We are only asking for £1 as every £1 helps but you are more than welcome to donate more.  Any amount would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your assistance in this appeal and if you want to read more about it, you can here http://www.unfairpak.co.uk/2012/08/17/appeal/

 

Court Details for 20 June 2012 Farepak Directors Trial

    COURT 26

Before MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

At half past 10

GENERAL LIST

Part Heard

584 of 2011 In the matter of European Home Retail plc and in the matter of Farepak Food & Gifts Ltd

Court Details Day 11 Farepak Directors Trial 14 June 2012

Chancery Division – Judges daily Cause list Thursday, 14 June 2012

 

 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE CHANCERY DIVISION COURT 26

 

 Before MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH

 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

 

 

Not Before half past 10

 

GENERAL LIST

 

Part Heard 584 of 2011 In the matter of European Home Retail plc and in the matter of Farepak Food & Gifts Ltd

Directors’ Duties in the matter of Uno plc and World of Leather plc [2004]

Unfairpak can confirm that this case has been referred to in the Defendant’s Skeleton Arguments.

 

Directors’ Duties In the matter of Uno plc and World of Leather plc [2004].

 

In this directors’ disqualification case it was accepted by the defendant directors that they were aware that the Group of Companies was in financial difficulties; that they continued to take deposits from cash paying customers; that they failed to segregate those deposits and that they knew that there was a risk that if the Group went into formal insolvency before customers received delivery then the customers would be unsecured creditors and would not receive the goods ordered or the refund of their deposits.

 

The Court agreed, however, with the submission made on behalf of the defendant director that their conduct did not amount to unfit conduct warranting a Disqualification Order. The reason for that was that the Secretary of State had overlooked the all important concession that, at all material times, the defendant directors had reasonable grounds for believing that insolvent liquidation could be avoided.

 

The Judge found that the defendant directors could not be criticised for their conduct. His detailed summary of the directors’ actions in the case showed that:-

 

1. They constantly reviewed the Company’s options.

 

2. They regularly received and considered updated financial infor mation.

 

3. They regularly took professional advice from solicitors and accountancy experts.

 

4. They kept their major creditors and suppliers fully informed of the actions they were taking.

 

5. They had gone out of their way to try and secure a solution which had reasonable prospects of succeeding and which, if achieved, would have satisfied all of the Group’s creditors not least its cash paying customers; and

 

6. They minuted key decisions taken and the reasons for them.

Allegations made by Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills

Taken from Skeleton Argument – THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SKILLS

Unfairpak would like to point out that these are allegations only and all persons named are innocent unless proven otherwise!!!!

5. The allegations of unfit conduct are, in very broad form, as follows:

5.1. Causing or permitting EHR to trade at the unreasonable risk of its creditors for the period from November 2005 (all defendants other than Mr Fowler) to the collapse in October 2006 and for the period from January 2005 to the collapse in October 2006 (Mr Fowler, who only became a director of FFG and EHR in January 2006) and, in the same periods, failing to ensure that that the FFG board was functioning adequately;

5.2. Causing or permitting FFG to trade at the unreasonable risk of its creditors for the period from November 2005 (Mr Rollason and Mr Gilodi-Johnson) to the collapse in October 2006 and for the period from January 2005 to the collapse in October 2006 (Mr Fowler, who only became a director of FFG and EHR in January 2006);

5.3. From 14 November 2005 (Mr Rollason and Mr Gilodi-Johnson) and from 1 January 2006 (Mr Fowler) seeking to mislead, alternatively failing to take adequate steps to inform, the boards of each of FFG and EHR of the developing financial situation in relation to a forecast inability of EHR to put FFG in funds to pay its major supplier at the end of January 2006;

5.4. In February 2006, failing to give any or any adequate consideration to (a) matters set out in a letter of representation provided to the auditors of FFG; (b) whether the financial statements for FFG for the period ending 28 April 2005 gave a true and fair view including by reference to any material post balance sheet events and (c) whether FFG’s auditors should have been informed of an inability of FFG to pay £5.6m due to its major supplier at the end of January 2006 and/or the collapse of such major supplier thereafter (Mr Rollason and Mr Fowler) and, in the case of Mr Rollason, permitting financial statements for FFG for the April 2005 year end to state that they had been approved by the board of FFG when the board had not met and had not approved the same;

5.5. From February 2006, failing to take adequate steps to inform the boards of EHR and FFG of the developing financial situation (Mr Rollason, Mr Fowler and Mr Gilodi-Johnson);

5.6. Seeking to mislead investigators appointed under s447 of the Companies Act 1985 as to the reasons for the failure of FFG, and its financial inability, to pay its major supplier at the end of January 2006 (Mr Rollason and Mr Fowler).

FAREPAK DIRECTORS TRIAL DAY 6 – 30 MAY 2012

Mrs Burns, for the Secretary of State, Insolvency Service finished giving evidence on behalf of said Secretary of State today and cross examination began by all defence counsels.  Mrs Burns had been giving evidence for 2 days on behalf of the Secretary of State and cross examination will continue again tomorrow, 31 May 2012.

Unfairpak would like to thank Simon Neville from the Guardian who took the time to go down to court today and see if he could report on same.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that Mrs Burns was beginning to be cross examined, Simon was not in possession of the evidence that had been heard over the last couple of days.  However, he did let us know that the defence were stating that the Insolvency Service were not offering any suggestions for what the directors should have done sooner.  Unfortunately, Mr Justice Peter Smith seemed to concur, stating “The Secretary of State [Vince Cable] wants me to disqualify these directors for doing too little too late……”.  “….. But you’ve given me nothing to suggest what they should have done differently”.  We at Unfairpak feel it is a little too early into the trial for the judge to be making such a statement but we have to concede that we have not heard whether Mrs Burns did offer up any suggestions as to what the directors should have done differently.  Judging on what Mr Justice Peter Smith has said, it appears she [Mrs Burns] offered nothing.

As we have already reported, the schedule is running behind.  We can confirm that witnesses that were supposed to give evidence today were told to come tomorrow and have now been told it will be changed to “sometime in the future”.

Unfairpak have always stated that this is a complex case and perhaps now people may begin to understand why it has taken so long to get to the stage it is currently at.  The trial is set down for 6 to 8 weeks but it may run longer.  We shall just have to wait and see.

There are two more days this week for evidence to be heard and then court will be closed for the holiday on Monday and Tuesday, 4th and 5th June respectively.

We shall, of course, keep you up to date with any further information we receive.

TRIAL OF FAREPAK DIRECTORS – DAY 4 29 MAY 2012

Today brought a mixture of emotions to Unfairpak.  We have been frantically trying to find out why no one is reporting on this case and we have actually had responses from newspapers stating “I was not aware……………”!  Hopefully now they are aware they will realise the importance of this case and start reporting on same.

The trial is running behind by approximately one day which has shifted the schedule a little and the schedule may shift again.  Unfairpak have ascertained and can confirm that the Directors will each give evidence for approximately 3 days each and there are 7 Directors to hear from.  Accordingly, the Directors’ evidence alone will amount to 21 days.  This highlights the scale of this actual case.  The Insolvency Service will be giving evidence into the latter part of June and Stevan Fowler will be the first Director to take the stand once the Insolvency Service rest their case.

Unfairpak have further ascertained that to obtain the transcripts of this trial would be extremely cumbersome and extremely costly.  Accordingly, we need reporters in court tweeting the evidence out to the general public.  There was a court reporter in court today but we are unsure as to whether there were any journalists or not.

The Directors do not need to be in court until they give evidence but they have been coming and going from court. 

Could anyone who suffered loss as a result of Farepak and would be willing to talk to the media, please email our National Campaign Co-ordinator, suzy@unfairpak.co.uk

We hope that we will be in a position to report a little more tomorrow.

 

 

The Times 17 February 2011 written by our National Campaign Co-ordinator

To have been given a chance to write an article for the Times regarding Farepak is something I would never have dreamed of. However, that is exactly what happened and here is the finished, printed, published article.

 

Suzy Hall

February 17 2011 12:01AM

On October 13, 2006, some 123,000 people had Christmas ripped from their hands when Farepak went into administration, taking with it £40 million of savers’ money. I was one of them. My family lost £1,000, but others fared even worse.

But at long last, all of us who, month after month, deposited our money with the Christmas hamper company might have something to celebrate. This week, the Insolvency Service began formal disqualification proceedings against nine former Farepak directors. These people are not fit to run a company; they deserve to be struck off.

The campaign group Unfairpak has fought continuously to have the directors brought to account for their incompetent, greedy, selfish and irresponsible actions. I firmly believe that the directors did not expect for one second that there would be an uprising of savers calling for justice. But now we can say that the voices of the “little people” have made a difference.

On August 23, 2006, the shares of European Home Retail, the parent company of Farepak, were suspended. Despite this obvious sign that the company was in serious trouble, the Farepak directors continued to take customers’ money — and ultimately the Christmases of thousands of children. Knowing that some of the directors must have been aware that Farepak was facing liquidation makes us savers feel even more that we were regarded with utter contempt by them.

During the weeks after the collapse, while Farepak savers were worrying about how we were going to pay for our families’ presents, we were subjected to images on TV and in the papers of the directors leaving their million-pound homes, even jetting off on luxury holidays. But the portrayal of savers as simply “poor people” or “financially illiterate” was wrong. Farepak savers were prudent. They planned ahead in order to avoid debts at Christmas. Despite this prudence, at the moment we are to get back no more than 15p for every £1 lost, although we hope that figure will rise.

The outcry over politicians’ expenses and bankers’ bonuses shows that society is no longer willing to sit back and let the “fat cats” get away with it any more. We are becoming a classless, less deferential society and the Farepak fightback is another example of how the voices of the “little people” will be heard. If any good can come from the debacle, this could be it. This week a loud message has been sent: no one is above the law and, though it may take time, justice will prevail.

 

Suzy Hall is national campaign co-ordinator of Unfairpak

Trial of Farepak Directors Day 2 – 25 May 2012

It was a very quiet day today which Unfairpak were completely surprised about given the fact that the directors written submissions were being set out in court.

All we got in the way of submissions were very basic and lacklustre.

However, the written submissions that we do have are as follows:-

Both William Rollason and Stevan Fowler who are, as we reported yesterday, being represented by the same firm, stated in written submissions that the government’s case “is heavily dependent on hindsight” and “is both misconceived legally and incoherent factually”.

Nicholas Gilodi-Johnson’s written submissions stated “There was at all times a reasonable prospect of avoiding an insolvency. The directors made the right decisions at the right time.”

Sir Clive Thompson and the three non executives written submissions claim that when examined in context: “each of them did as much as should reasonably been, and be, expected of them”.

The hearing of evidence begins this Monday, 28 May 2012.

FAREPAK DIRECTORS’ TRIAL DAY 1 – 24 MAY 2012

As advised by Unfairpak, the trial is set down for 6 to 8 weeks.

It got off to a slow start today, 24 May 2012, with the Secretary of State giving opening submissions before Mr Justice Peter Smith and advising him that he had the power to disqualify them from being directors from between 2 to 15 years.

In written submissions, Malcolm Davis-White QC, acting on behalf of the Insolvency Service stated “The proceedings, seeking disqualification orders, are brought against directors of the holding company European Home Retail and its subsidiary Farepak Food & Gifts. They concern approximately the last year or so of trading of Farepak and the group.”  Mr Justice Peter Smith was also told that the directors had traded at an “unreasonable risk” and that the collapse of Farepak Food & Gifts Limited had not came “out of the blue”.

Accordingly, the Insolvency Service are making “allegations of unfit conduct” and are arguing that the directors of European Home Retail (hereainafter referred to as “EHR”) or Farepak Food & Gifts Limited allowed or caused said companies to “trade at the unreasonable risk of its creditors”.

As Unfairpak exclusively revealed to the Sunday Herald on 12 February 2012, two former directors of Farepak Food & Gifts Limited have already taken voluntary disqualification.  Joanne Ponting and Stephen Hicks both took voluntary disqualification in 2011.

Michael Johns who was a non executive director at the time of the collapse is a senior partner with the London firm K&L Gates and is being represented by said company.  Neil Gillis and Paul Munn, Farepak directors and Sir Clive Thompson, former chairman are also being represented by said firm with Paul Girolami QC of Maitland Chambers instructed as counsel.

Richard Highley dispute resolution partner of DAC Beachcroft is acting for William Rollason and Steven Fowler with Michael Green QC of Fountain Court alongside.

The commercial dispute resolution partner of Nabarro has instructed Philip Jones QC of Serle Chambers to act for Nicholas Gilodi-Johnson, Farepak Food & Gifts Limited’s former managing director.

Lawyers for the Insolvency Service also pointed out that prior to the collapse on Friday 13 October 2006, “about £1 million a week” was coming in from Farepak savers who had “no inkling” of “any serious risk”.

Mr Davis-White also pointed out that company financial forecasts in November 2005 “identified a risk” that Farepak Food & Gifts Limited would not have enough monies to pay Choice Gift Vouchers, their main supplier.  Choice Gift Vouchers Limited entered administration on Tuesday 31 January 2006 having being paid approximately half of the £12.1 million owed to them by Farepak Food & Gifts Limited.

“With alarming cashflow projections available from early April 2006 warning of a lack of sufficient cash in the group from October 2006 onwards, various unsuccessful attempts were made by the group to find a solution to the funding crisis,” Mr Davis-White added.

“Throughout this period, savers’ weekly payments (amounting by October to some £2million per week) continued to be collected by Farepak and swept up daily into the group account, unprotected by any trust account or similar arrangement.”

“By the time Farepak ceased to accept savers’ money on October 11 2006, it had ordered no vouchers for Christmas 2006. On October 13 2006 European Home Retail and a number of its subsidiaries including Farepak entered (variously) administration and administrative receivership.”

Mr Davis-White also went on to point out that Farepak’s creditors were also savers.  He further went on to state that “we say you have to look at the overall financial position and the risk.  We say it is relevant that your creditors are savers. It should help you shape more carefully how you deal with things. It is all very well saying ‘they are creditors like any other’ but, in our respectful submission, they are not simply creditors like any other.”

Counsel will deliver opening submissions on behalf of the defendants tomorrow, 25 May 2012 and the court will begin hearing evidence on Monday, 28 May 2012.