No sale !

Posted: 11th April 2013

Donyatt Bowling

Joe Canney thought his prayers had been answered when, in the summer of 2012, he received a telephone call out of the blue from a firm of commercial property agents offering to help him sell his business. 

It turned into a nightmare when RTA (Business Consultants) Limited did nothing but send him a bill for nearly £10,000 the next month, claiming that he was in breach of contract and legally liable to pay. 

The Stockport based RTA, which has been the subject of a number of unfavourable reports in the media and on the web, has been branded “a scam” by the Federation of Small Businesses.  

The business manager of the company is reported to have described as “draconian” the system they operate.  Basically the standard terms of the contract require payment of “expenses” on signature and if that sum is not paid then RTA terminate the contract, without having done anything, and claim a larger sum as liquidated damages for breach of contract. 

Joe Canney found himself tangled up in the small print of an agreement which required him to part with £1,800 straight away.  When he refused to do so, he was told that he was in breach of the agreement and billed for a total of £9,900. 

RTA sued Joe when he didn’t pay.  They made it potentially more difficult for him by limiting the claim to £5,000, so keeping it within the (then) limits of the small claims track at the county court.  That meant he faced the prospect of not being able to recover any lawyers’ fees even if he successfully defended the claim. 

Joe consulted Williamsons.  We were able to help at proportionate cost by unbundling the litigation. 

Michael Williamsons says, “We have been doing this for some years in commercial small claims and have found it very effective.  Basically, instead of taking charge of the whole case and incurring costs doing things that most clients are able to deal with themselves, we only do the bits that really need a lawyer.”

“Very often that means drafting the particulars of claim or the defence, as the case may be, and maybe helping with preparation of witness statements“, he adds, ”but very often we will send the client off, well prepared, to deal with the hearing themselves.” 

In this case Joe, with the help and support of wife Janet, went along to court with everything prepared and a range of arguments.  On the first occasion, the case was adjourned because RTA had failed to serve the documents on which they were relying. 

At the second attempt, the claim was dismissed, the District Judge finding that RTA had wrongly drawn the contract in Joe’s name personally, and then sued him, whereas it was open knowledge that his business at the Donyatt Bowling Club near Ilminster was owned by a limited company. 

The end result was that the case was dismissed and an application to appeal was refused. Joe spent some money but far less than he would have done if he had paid even the reduced sum claimed by RTA.

There was also a welcome sense of satisfaction and a feeling that justice has been done. Says Joe, “I am delighted with the result and grateful to Williamsons for their help with a very unpleasant business”.

The Donyatt Sport and Bowling Club is set in 5 acres of land  just over a mile south of Ilminster. It has 6 indoor and 6 outdoor bowling rinks, a large bar area with dartboards, a skittle alley and a function room to seat 90 people. Joe is still there – for now!