Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by 14xx Lover, Jan 4, 2010.
And the creditors won't either I suspect..
Let's not forget HMRC's cut ..... they sure as hell won't!
Most likily and of course former PLC board members who own Loco's and Coaches , who oversaw this and did not act to control what was happening, before it brought the PLC down, will not face any action, as they have already moved their engines out
My reading of the VCT list of Mk1 corridors suggests that LR has 9 x TSO, 2 x CK, 2 x SK 1 x FK and 3 x BSK (2 accessible) with a further 2 x BSK non-passenger carrying and a privately owned RB. The liquidators claim that the PLC owned 11 Mk1's and a GUV. It would be interesting know which are actually owned by the PLC and which are owned by the Trust/privately. Whatever happens with the PLC's carriages the LR will still have enough for a basic service as Gav says. As others have mentioned buying the PLC owned track and essential operating/maintenance equipment are probably higher priorities for the Trust. Best of luck to them.
I thought I read somewhere a year or so back that they were no longer to be in the front line on these occasions?
HMRC position changed last december, generally secondary, tightened a little, their "cut" is of course public money and surely should have some protection.
The PLC had audited accounts so it should be reasonably certain they maintained a proper register of assets and that the auditors did some checking of this annually. On that basis you would expect when looking for assets to sell to repay the first port of call would be the assets detailed in the accounting records as belonging to the Plc. It is only if the debt is not covered from these assets might they start enquiring into the ownership of other assets on the railway.
I believe the PLC ones were a BSK, 6 TSOs, 1 CK, 1 SK, the RMB and the BSK function coach. In addition 1 of the TSOs listed on VCT was sold to the foxfield in January, and another TSO is being moved away by a private owner. The FK I’m almost certain is owned by the trust, and is one of the only ones in a non-runnable condition (partly due to being vandalised last October).
The fees that liquidators, receivers, etc do annoy me just as what many lawyers charge for legal work when the party paying the bill is not the one instructing the work. A client had a lease with a company that went bang recently so we get all the liquidation letters. The rates being charged per hour start at £145 - £180 for a business trainee. A partner is £595 an hour. The party that appoints them is not paying so they are quibbling about the fees. I get this frequently at work in that a bank might want a legal opinion for a transaction, a valuation or their legal fees paid to consent to a matter. They seem never to question what they get quoted and blithely accept as they require the client to pay. They tend to be shocked when I ring them up and question the fees quoted, ask if X or Y firm would be acceptable to them as they will do the work for considerably less. I know firms of accountants who effectively have one rate for work where the money for the fees is effectively coming out of the pockets of those instructing them and another rate where it is not.
I am sure the firm appointed are very honourable and reputable with their fees and time charged totally reasonable and properly incurred. However I would much prefer that there was a public office in respect of all liquidators, receivers, administrators as it must be tempting to drag things on, dump a bit of time here and there when you have not got clients bitching in your ear about fees
As a retired solicitor, I heartily agree. Some firms are pretty cynical. Although I was never involved in disciplinary proceedings, I couldn't help feeling sorry for people who put their hands up and admitted the charges, suffered the penalty and were then hit with a huge order for the costs of the 'prosecution'. Considering the case was not contested, those costs made me wish I could charge my clients similar amounts!
Enterprise Act 2002 made HMRC (as it became) an unsecured creditor
Thanks, that had escaped my attention.
"The Finance Act 2020 legislation was recently enacted to give HMRC its preferential creditor status, taking effect from 1 December 2020. This legislation more or less returns the insolvency creditor process to the pre-Enterprise Act 2002 era."
It would be interesting, if sad, to see the administrators' report. The last PLC accounts showed £500k of tangible assets and for it to be insolvent to £350k(?) suggests a lot of debts.
Commercial litigation at £750 an hour in the City before the 2008 financial crash :0
In 2017 PWC were charging a partner at £935 per hour or £1,312 if from a specialist department such as tax or VAT. The cheapest rate for support staff was £245 an hour. That were the quoted rates for the liquidation of Lehman Commercial Mortgage which went on 10 years
Just to let you know Tom, I've not been avoiding answering you, it seemed more productive to allow time for other responses to appear.
If I'm interpreting your viewpoint correctly, any concerns seem to relate to adding yet more complexity and/or beauracracy. If you're anything like me, you'll be casting back to those lost days when it all ran tolerably well on goodwill, trust, a handshake, a wing and a prayer. My own suggestion, made reluctantly in the cold light of issues thrown up by events at Llangollen, merely seeks to provide clarity and security when it comes to occasionally labyrinthine record keeping (where such has ever existed in the first place!).
I'll respond to your point 'why the HRA'. In light of info from @mdewell, I accept it's unrealistic. Likewise, the VCT database is a superb resource, but doesn't fit the bill either, being an enthusiast outfit, working with such info as contributors may care to make available and when it comes to areas 'in contact with legislation', it'd be mighty unfair to expect an entirely voluntary outfit to be worrying about the finer points of confidential data protection. That and IMO, this applies to everything with wheels, plus a fair bit of valuable kit which might not have. Perhaps utilising something along the lines of existing 'smartwater' property protection type schemes would be more suitable, but that would scarcely address stuff which has already spent decades rotting in the long grass.
Long before the LR, we had famous examples, such as a certain unrestored 2ft gauge Peckett, left in limbo due the owner having passed on and noone having a clue who now owned it, let alone how to contact them. Also in the back of my mind is a frequent problem in boating circles, where some long abandoned vessel is lost, due to outstanding mooring fees exceeding any reasonable estimate of said vessel's value. OK, so AFAIK, that situation hasn't so far been all that applicable to heritage railways, but I'd suggest that's largely been down to the established precept that "possession is 9/10ths of the law", as was the case with demolition of several lines (the original WHR being a case in point).
Hope that clears up where I'm coming from on this one.
Edit: I've taken on board @mdewell's point and fully accept my HRA suggestion is a total non-starter and removed it accordingly. The point itself remains valid IMO.
Not sure what you think the HRA is about or how it works, but perhaps I can give you little perspective on it.
The HRA only has 2 paid staff, so most of its work is done by volunteers (chosen for their experience and knowledge in various areas). So you could also just as well describe the HRA as an 'enthusiast outfit'. That doesn't mean their abilities and knowledge are any less than that of paid professionals.
So, to take on something such as you are suggesting would mean the work being done by the same sort of people who run the 'VCT' database. Which by the way does not 'belong' to the VCT as such. It is run by the Railway Heritage Register Partnership (membership of which includes people from HRA, NRM and VCT).
I hope this clarifies a few things for you, even if it doesn't fully answer all the points you were trying to make.
Fair enough .... unrealistic suggestion. Apologies. Nonetheless, the issue of who owns what and how it's protected, come unwelcome developments such as those on the LR, remains.
My real objection is that it is the responsibility of a company to maintain an accurate asset register; and if for any reason they are incapable of doing so, I don’t see that involving an external body solves that problem, because I can’t see what an external body could resolve that wouldn’t be more easily done by the actual owning organisation.
Even when you have agreements, it isn't always clear cut. The Middleton Railway owns most of its stock and all the privately owned ones are subject to agreements (except one, which just happens to be mine.) However, in the case of three of them, they were put on loan by organisations a good number of years ago. At least one of these has ceased to exist and the other two have been the subject of takeovers and mergers such that they are probably unaware that they technically own them. It's unlikely that the loaning organisation would inform you what was happening and, its only when your occasional review comes up that you discover that your letters go unanswered. With the latter two we could probably track down the present owners with a bit of detective work but, in the case of the one where the organisation simply folded, who actually owns it? Then there was another item of rolling stock where the owner died but there was no mention in the will. The executors did not want to know and would not help regularise the situation.
I also remember when British Coal ceased to exist there were a large number of locos that were on loan from that organisation to heritage railways. The majority of railways that had them on loan thought that they would take over ownership by default and were quite surprised to much later find that the ownership had, in fact, been transferred to the National Coal Mining Museum. At least one of these locos had been scrapped in the meantime and another had been sold.
It's not just rolling stock where the problem can lie. Who actually owns that compressor or mini-digger that a well meaning volunteer bought for the railway. He may have the bill of sale when he bought it but is there anything in writing that actually transferred it to the railway, even when this was the intention? in the case of Llangollen that would be a blessing in disguise but what if the once willing donor fell out with the railway, as does happen? After perhaps twenty years of using and maintaining it, that mini-digger might suddenly disappear from them at a moments notice.
Fair enough, but isn't the scope of such a register limited to the company's own assets? I suspect we've both been typing away simtaneously, but I'd point you back to the last para in my post #1253, to the specific issue surrounding items where ownership isn't as clear as it ought to be. In Rumsfeld terms (sorry!), I suppose the issues come down to 'known knowns' (the statutory asset register) and 'unknown unknows' ("Who the hell owns that disintigrating TSO? We need the siding back"), as much as keeping a receivers' paws of someone else's kit. If you're saying, in the LR case "if it isn't on the register, it can't be flogged off" and that's legally watertight, all well and good ... and I'll happily shut up!
Unfortunately, its not quite that simple.
It depends on the standard of book keeping and the recording of loans, donations and acquisitions at zero cost. The situation is further complicated by the presence of the plc and the Trust.
I don't envy whoever is sorting it out.
Nor I, hence my concern.
Separate names with a comma.