When a partnership swerves off course

Alan Rees’ passion for motorsport led him to set up a racing team with business partner Jackie Oliver, but their commercial journey ground to a halt when Alan found that his partner was taking money out of the company.

Alan Rees’ passion for motorsport led him to set up a racing team with business partner Jackie Oliver, but their commercial journey ground to a halt when Alan, the minority shareholder, found that his partner was taking money out of the company without his agreement.

Alan, now in his 80s, had been a racing driver himself and when he retired from driving in 1968 he went on to manage an American F1 team. He had known Jackie for about 10 years when they set up their own team and went into partnership.

When he discovered that assets were being diverted away from the business without his knowledge or consent, he called on Adam Finch to help him to resolve the problem.

Adam said: “We reviewed the evidence and it was clear Alan had a case for unfair prejudice under s994 of the Companies Act 2006. As the minority shareholder, Alan had less control of the company. Jackie was taking money out of the business against Alan’s wishes, diverting assets to other companies Jackie owned.

“Alan didn’t have the resources to take the case to trial. We believed in it and him, so we backed him on a no win, no fee basis.” Adam and Alan tried to resolve the problem via mediation, but Jackie wasn’t willing to take that route. Adam said: “It’s always sensible to explore alternative dispute resolution – no-one wants to end up in court – but mediation requires the parties involved to take a pragmatic approach and sometimes it just doesn’t work.”

Finally, only about a week before they were due to go to court, Jackie Oliver settled.

Alan said: “There are a lot of things I didn’t get to do during the five years or so that this was going on. I want to catch up on those and make a plan for the future. Adam and the team were wonderful. I would definitely recommend Harrison Clark Rickerbys.”

Adam said: “If you’re a shareholder, in particular a minority shareholder, and you’re worried, perhaps because other shareholders and directors are using the company as their own wallet, dividends aren’t being paid but you can’t see a logical reason why not, or assets are being paid away, always seek advice from a professional.”

Key contacts involved

Adam Finch, Partner

Dispute Resolution

Direct Dial: 01242 211 635
Mobile: 07772 481 550

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