Blunder sinks 124-year-old engineering firm

IT was a 124-year-old Welsh family business which took five generations to build up, yet a blunder over a single letter was all that was needed to cause its collapse, leaving the government with a £9-million (R176-million) legal bill.

A high court ruling has found Companies House liable for the demise of Taylor & Sons Ltd, after they erroneously recorded that the Cardiff engineering firm had been wound up.

In fact, it was another entirely unconnected company, Taylor & Son Ltd, which had actually gone bust.

By the time Companies House, an executive agency of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, tried to correct its mistake three days later, it was already too late for the Cardiff firm.

“They [Companies House] had already sold the false information to the credit reference agencies,” Philip DavisonSebry, 57, former managing director and co-owner of Taylor & Sons Ltd, said.

“We lost all our credibility as all our suppliers thought we were in liquidation.”

Davison-Sebry said that within just three weeks all of its 3 000 suppliers had been in touch to terminate orders and credit facilities were withdrawn. “I was on holiday in the Maldives when I got a message to urgently contact Corus, one of our major clients. They said they weren’t happy at all I was on holiday, asking how could I be on holiday at a time like this?” he said.

“They said we were in liquidation and that the credit agencies had told them. I rang the office to find out what was going on – it was like Armageddon. This was all on the day of my wife’s 50th birthday. We will never forget it.”

Despite desperate attempts to reassure customers and suppliers that there had been a mistake, the business, which was established in 1875, proved impossible to save.

The one-letter mistake was recorded on the companies register on February 20 2009 and within two months the company, which employed 250 people, had gone into administration.

But after a four-year legal battle, Davison-Sebry has emerged victorious when a high court judge ruled this week that Companies House was legally responsible for Taylor & Sons’ catastrophic loss of business and ultimate collapse.

The amount of damages payable by Companies House has yet to be finally assessed.

– The Telegraph


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