"Phoenix" company loses appeal against O-licence refusal

 

An exhibitions company that is linked to several failed firms has lost an appeal against the decision to deny it a restricted O-licence.

The Upper Tribunal found that North West traffic commissioner (TC) Simon Evans had been right to refuse Sheffield-based Live Events at Networks 3D permission to run HGVs, after the man who made the application attempted to mislead the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC).

An appeal hearing last month was told that joint shareholder Richard Mosley had submitted a false application form, which incorrectly stated that those involved with the proposed licence had not been involved with an insolvent company; had not been subject to a disqualification; had not previously held an O-licence and had not been called to a public inquiry (PI).

However, a PI earlier this year found that Mosley had been disqualified as a director for three years due to his involvement in past companies that had fallen into arrears with HMRC.

He had previously been a director at Network Global, which went into administration in 2008 owing more than £200,000 to HMRC.

Its assets were sold to Nemel, which traded as Networks, and also had Mosley as a director, but that company appointed liquidators in 2011 after also incurring debt to HMRC.

Another company, Networks 3D, was formed by Mosley and his wife in 2011 and took on Nemel’s business. While his wife was the sole director, the senior TC noted that Mosley still assisted her in the running of the business. Two months after the licence was granted, he was banned from acting as a director for three years.

Networks 3D went into liquidation in September last year, owing more than £190,000 to HMRC. However, Live Events at Networks 3D, for which Mosley’s wife is sole director, applied for an O-licence a few months before. This was after the winding-up petition for the former company had been issued.

When asked by the OTC why the form contained some false statements, Mosley contended that the signed form was completed by a member of staff in his absence.

It also emerged that he had failed to disclose his disqualification.

At a PI before TC Evans in January, Mosley sought to attribute the history of failing companies on small margins and late paying clients. He said Live Events at Networks 3D since operated with strictly-enforced terms of business.

He claimed he had not hidden anything from the OTC, but this was disputed by the TC. The firm had also failed to establish financial standing.

In his appeal against the decision, Mosley said Evans had relied on “personal opinion” and described the hearing as a “witch hunt”.

However, the Upper Tribunal found that Mosley had not been straightforward with the TC and had “in all likelihood also acted as a director, if not in name, of Networks 3D once he had been disqualified”.

Judge Jacqueline Beech said to grant a licence to a “phoenix operation” would be “grossly unfair to operators who are scrupulous in ensuring their financial affairs are in order”.