When it comes to flexing its censorious muscles over what you can and cannot register as a company name in the UK, it appears that Companies House may have fallen behind the times.
The executive agency in charge of incorporating and dissolving registered commercial entities has long been known as a bastion of decorum and decency. Every year, the government body rejects a few dozen applications to set up companies on the grounds that the requested names are potentially offensive.
One of the most notorious incidents of cyber crime to date also stands out for the bare-faced cheek and simplicity of the methods employed. When criminals targeted Austrian aerospace firm FACC, they didn’t bother trying to hack into the company’s IT systems, bring down firewalls with a DDoS attack, or plant malware on its servers to quietly mine sensitive data.
Instead, they simply impersonated CEO Walter Stephan, sending a fake email in his name authorising a junior member of the accounts teams to send $47m to what the email claimed was the bank account of a company Mr Stephan was negotiating to buy. It wasn’t, and the thieves made off with the biggest single haul in cybercrime history.
In our line of work, we come across some colourful characters to say the very least. We all know the stereotypes about the shady circles debt collectors have to move in. Well, while we’re not always keen on the cliches, the truth is in the course of recovering debts, we do have to deal with a motley assortment of fraudsters, conmen, chancers and career criminals, all often operating under the guise of supposedly legitimate business interests.
What we certainly never do is feel any ill will towards anyone we attempt to collect money from. At the end of the day, it is a professional service we provide, to look after the interests of the small business owners, freelancers and contractors who come to us, often at their wits end, to try to get back money that is rightfully theirs. But whoever it is that owes the money, and whatever their reasons for not paying their debts, they are still people.
The number of County Court Judgments (CCJs) against businesses in England and Wales shot up by 12% in the first quarter of 2019, according to official figures from the Registry Trust.
A total of 35,779 CCJs were issued in the first three months of the year with a combined value of £107.2 million - a year-on-year increase of 6% from the same period in 2018. The figures show that judgments have gone up against both incorporated and non-incorporated businesses, part of a longer term trend which has seen the net value and frequency of CCJs increase.
Here’s a debt recovery story with a twist - a sales rep sues his erstwhile employer for unpaid commission, wins, and then discovers that the business unit he worked for has been shut down mid-action, with all its assets transferred to a new legal entity.
The upshot being, a year on from being awarded his claim in court, he is yet to receive a penny.
New figures from the Insolvency Service show a shocking decline in enforcement actions against unscrupulous businesses since the government’s austerity programme was introduced in 2010.
According to the Service’s regular Enforcement Outcomes updates, the number of interventions to wind up companies in the public interest is set to decline again this year, the fourth consecutive annual fall. Over the longer term, in 2009/10 there were 267 successful petitions to close companies down, compared to just 73 in 2017/18 - a decrease of 73%. In the current year, with just a month to go, there have been just 57 completed actions.
Backers of a project to reboot the classic ZX Spectrum as a handheld games console have been left half a million pounds out of pocket after the developer went to the wall.
As we have previously reported, the project to bring back the cult 80s device launched by Retro Computers Ltd has been dogged with problems in what has become a long-running saga.
The company initially set up a crowdfunding campaign through IndieGoGo to bring the concept to life. It raised £513,000 from more than 4,500 backers, with Retro promising each enthusiast a finished console when production was completed.
It’s a phrase that has become a mantra for personal injury and small claims lawyers. Imported from the US legal system in the mid-90s, No Win, No Fee is the consumer-friendly name given to a method of claims financing officially known as a conditional fee agreement.
It more or less works as the two names suggest - payment is conditional on the case being won. This means litigants don’t have to raise funds up front for expensive legal action, it is the lawyers that take on the risk, and final payment is usually taken as a percentage of the compensation won.
Action Fraud are warning UK based consumers and businesses to be aware of a new type of financial scam, fraudsters claiming to be bailiffs are sending SMS messages or making calls to targets across the UK in the hope of pressuring them to pay fictitious debts.
The scam sees victims receive texts by the fraudsters about the fake debt, claiming that they will "attend your address for resolution" if payment of the imaginary debt is not made.
Directors who dissolve companies to write off debts, only to start up near identical businesses shortly after, could be banned and fined under new regulations.
The government has moved to crackdown on so-called ‘phoenix companies’ as part of a raft of changes intended to protect employees and pension holders when companies are shut down.
Retail tycoon Mike Ashley has been quick to position himself as champion of the high street after buying House of Fraser out of administration. But whether suppliers, pension holders and even landlords will be celebrating the takeover is questionable.
The Sports Direct owner snapped up the struggling department chain for £90m just an hour after entered administration last week, vowing to keep open at least 80% of its UK stores open.
The concept of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ is something of a myth in business. Technically speaking, a verbal understanding between two parties is enforceable under contract law, as long as certain criteria relating to contracts are met.
But there lies the rub. If nothing is ever written down, if everything is done on a nod and a handshake, how do you ever prove things like intention to enter a contract and due consideration by both parties?
For video game fans of a certain vintage, it was a beautiful dream. A plan to reboot the classic ZX Spectrum console of their childhoods, but this time as a handheld device.
The company behind the proposed ZX Spectrum Vega+, Retro Computers Ltd, launched a crowdfunding campaign through IndieGoGo to finance the project. Enthusiasts rushed to back the plans, based on the promise of receiving one of the consoles hot off the production line upon launch. More than half a million pounds was raised in no time.
There have been plenty of stories in recent times of large corporations going bust, leaving a trail of out-of-pocket suppliers and creditors in their wake.
But it would be wrong to assume this is the kind of thing that only happens in the world of big business. Even down at the ‘grassroots’ level of microbusinesses and one-man-bands operating in niche cottage industries, where the principles of trust and your word being your bond are still believed to hold sway, things can go wrong.