Chapter Hall; Image courtesy of The Museum of the Order of St John

On Thursday 2 November 2017, PCR officially welcomed our new partner Stratford Hamilton to the business with a drinks and canapé reception at The Museum of the Order of St John.

We were joined by business owners, local traders, accountants and lawyers – some who had travelled far to be with us on a pleasant evening of networking at a fantastic venue. Guests also wandered the museum which tells the story of the Venerable Order of St John from its roots as a pan-European Order of Hospitality Knights founded in Jerusalem during the crusades, right to its present commitment to providing first aid and care in the community through the St John Ambulance Brigade.

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A recent study carried out by the insolvency trade body R3 in conjunction with BDRC Continental appeared to show that the picture was worsening for businesses across the UK, with fewer companies now reporting growth in comparison to earlier in the year.

The findings of the report highlighted that as of September 2017, 53% of businesses had reported one or more signs of growth. This figure saw an 11% decrease compared to the figure recorded in April this year, where 64% of businesses had reported some sort of growth. In fact, what made this figure more alarming was the fact that it was the lowest percentage of reported business growth since July 2013. The most common reason for signs of distress emanated from ‘Decreased sales volumes’, which was reported by the greatest proportion of firms surveyed, at 12% - up from 7% in April 2017. The number of maximum overdrafts being used by firms each month also increased, a figure which jumped up by 4% compared to this time last year.

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You may have seen the recent article from the Insolvency Service about the hapless individual that attempted to avoid disqualification by faking his own death.

If you haven’t, the full story can be read here and tells the tale of Bradley Silver whose company 24/7 London GRP (UK) BLimited was wound up in the public interest after spoofing its way into TV production companies on the back of some poorly forged accounts and no doubt no short measure of spiel by Mr Silver.

Apparently undeterred by the notion that the collapse of his scam might mean he was not actually a very good confidence trickster, he tried one last wheeze… on the Insolvency Service and Registrar Derrett. Unsurprisingly they saw through Adam Solomons, a friend of Mr Silver who contacted the Service to explain that Mr Silver had committed suicide. The fact that Silver and Solomons had a common phone number and signature gave a hint that they were the same person, which of course they were. Receiving 14 years disqualification (the maximum is 15 years) this is another reminder that integrity and competence are more relevant than deficiency in disqualification proceedings. In this case the deficiency to creditors was reportedly just £15k.

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The demise of Monarch Airlines came as something of a surprise to a lot of people, particularly to the 110,000 or so holidaymakers left stranded abroad and those now frantically trying to rebook a holiday or contact their credit card provider.

The failure did not however come as a surprise to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which had invoked contingency planning a year ago for what has since been dubbed the largest ever peacetime repatriation effort. Coincidentally, Monarch struggled to renew their Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) last year. This reason alone was seen by experts as the first warning sign that all was not well.

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We are pleased to announce that Stratford Hamilton has joined us at partner level. Stratford joins the practice with 21 years’ experience in insolvency and was recently a partner in a practice based in Essex since 2010.

Over the past 7 years, Stratford has undertaken personal and corporate appointments mainly associated with fraud and investigation. He has also worked with creditor groups and government bodies in investigative cases pursuing claims which has resulted in the recovery of funds on behalf of creditors in insolvent estates.

Some of his most recent memorable cases included acting as liquidator of a company based in the UK involved in an overseas property investment fraud which resulted in creditors losing $62m in the United States. He was also a Trustee in a Bankruptcy of a high-profile sports related individual, resulting in a return to creditors where it was previously believed no dividend would be paid.

Stratford is a Licenced Insolvency Practitioner, member of the ICAEW and the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.

In his spare time, Stratford can be seen engaging in online gaming or on a golf course, a welcome break when you are a dad to 6 children.

Welcome to the team!

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