An Onion, a Director and an Unlikely Tale

Posted on Oct 12, 2023. by NTI

In 'local news' a company called Akkurate Ltd (you would think in all but 'spelling', but it appears even that is not the case) was a company which owned a number of fashion brand trade marks which had been created by John Richmond (who I feel we should have heard of, but just haven't).

Anyway, in 2015, Akkurate got into a spot of bother which led to its ultimate annihilation. It entered Compulsory Liquidation. The Liquidators (Messrs Wolloff and Short) sold the company’s trade marks to Mark Schofield (of whom we also have never heard). In 2018 the Liquidators issued proceedings against Richmond, alleging fraudulent conduct during his time as a director prior to the Liquidation.

The claim was pretty substantial, brought, as it was, in the sum of £10 million. However, on the basis of Richmond’s apparently limited resources, the claim was settled for significantly less than the sum claimed. Messrs Wolloff and Short then brought further proceedings, in which they argued that Schofield was really just a front for Richmond at the time the trade marks were purchased (in that they had never both been seen in a bar at the same time). They argued that he had secretly acquired the trade marks for his own personal benefit.

Whilst they were at it, they also argued that they had been induced to enter into the earlier settlement of the first proceedings as a result of misrepresentations made by Richmond about his means. Richmond and Schofield applied for 'reverse summary judgment' (which is generally applied by a court when summary judgment has been issued, but the a cross-motion by the plaintiff in response to a defendant's motion for summary judgment is issued in a kind of a 'take THAT BACK' argument). They said that the settlement agreement reached in respect of the first proceedings had compromised the more recent breach of duty claims.

The court dismissed this application, observing that the application was listed for five days and had resulted in the service of a very large quantity of evidence and there was golf to play and the nights were closing in. In an existential leap into metaphor the applicants argued that the case was analogous to an onion and that peeling off the various layers of it would ultimately reveal that the issues were unworthy of a trial.

"An onion, you say?", said the court. 

Although Mr Richmond was no longer a director of the Akkurate at the time the trade marks were sold, there were sufficient facts and legal principles to justify the proposition that his duties to the company had subsisted at this time and that the matter required a trial to determine. There was reason to doubt that Mr Richmond would be able to discharge this evidential burden and, therefore, it was right for this matter to go to trial.

« Back to articles