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How to find official company information for dispute?

ronny1976
ronny1976 Forumite Posts: 22
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Keeping the details fictious for sensitivity of things.

Summary: I have incurred some financial losses and other property damage due to some company. I wish to file a small claims against them for this but finding the company details for the company I need to pursue is proving to be difficult because there are multiple companies involved.

Say:
  1. First company is called Pizza's R Us Ltd. I have the company number for officially this business is listed as something generic like an Administration Business.
  2. Second company for which I don't have the name for or a company number, uses the branding Pizza's R Us. The name of the company is probably generic like Food Services Ltd and this company is listed as a Food Service Business.
  3. The company director history for Pizza's R Us Ltd are a mess as it has changed hands multiple times with multiple directors etc. However, the current and active director (who has had the business for a while) is the director of a few other companies, a few of these are extremely likely candidates for the second company.
While trying to claim against Pizza's R Us Ltd, I have been informed that this is not correct business to pursue as they only do some Administration for the company I am trying to pursue. They would not reveal the information of the company I need to correctly pursue.

Clearly, both companies are setup this way to immorally protect themselves from such consumer disputes and they have a huge track record of disgruntled consumers who have faced similar issues. Based on public reviews on the Pizza's R Us Ltd. On paper, they conduct all their business through the second company but the consumer isn't given any information on this and it is only details of first company that is presented.

Two questions I have:
  1. What would happen if I continue the claim against Pizza's R Us Ltd and it ends up in front of a judge? Will they see the obvious company setup to avoid consumer legal action? Even though I can't take action against the first company, will the process reveal the details for the second company?
  2. How can I easily verify that I have the correct details of the second company? I have a very likely short list but I do not want to waste money by filing separate claims for each of the likely companies.
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Comments

  • tightauldgit
    tightauldgit Forumite Posts: 2,546
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    Keeping things generic will probably make it more difficult to advise you but basically you need to pursue the legal entity that you contracted with or caused you the losses. 

    If you take someone else to court then of course the judge will dismiss the case. Highly unlikely the process will reveal anything unless they do so by mistake. You also need to be careful about pursuing the same claim multiple times against multiple entities as it might well be thrown out. You may find you only have one shot to get it right.

    Is this something you bought? If so who did you contract with?
  • user1977
    user1977 Forumite Posts: 11,728
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    It would help if you told us what the claim is about and what information you already have. And bear in mind that the correct party may not even be a limited company.
  • RefluentBeans
    RefluentBeans Forumite Posts: 434
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    Yeah using general names will give general advice, and make the whole thing harder for people to understand. 

    You don’t make it clear (and using Pizza R Us as an example doesn’t help this) - did you buy something from this company? Did you buy something from another company and this is a subcontractor? Did you buy nothing but the company damaged your property? 

    If you didn’t buy anything from anyone then you, by definition, have no rights under the CRA. It would be a criminal damage matter and/or insurance issue. 

    If it’s all done via a second company, is this a franchise type business where the branding is used but the actual business is owned by another party? If you have an invoice - it should tell you who the contract is with. It doesn’t really matter if they subcontract it to other people - you formed a contract with the first company, they paid another company to do the work on their behalf. 

    Summary: this is to vague to give any meaningful support. If you don’t want to reveal information that is okay - but it means you should really take the advice provided with a pinch of salt. If you nee to be this vague, then contact a solicitor and they’ll provide accurate information, and professional advice. 
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Forumite Posts: 6,225
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    As above of the issues of generics, especially a pizza company causing property damage?

    I am assuming this is in relation to a product or service you have bought so your should check your contract to see who the contracting entity was. That is the party you are required to pursue. 

    You have to remember that companies, like people, are legal entities in their own right. You may say there are a series of companies that are in some way inter related but you can't sue Jack because you aren't sure if Bill or Bob did it just because the three of them are brothers. There are many reasons why companies have multiple entities and trading names, courts take more of a dim view on people who dont issue correctly than corporations with multiple entities.
  • Ectophile
    Ectophile Forumite Posts: 7,050
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    The best thing is to check any receipts, invoices or other official documentation.  Then sue the company named on that.
    If it sticks, force it.
    If it breaks, well it wasn't working right anyway.
  • Ditzy_Mitzy
    Ditzy_Mitzy Forumite Posts: 1,784
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    As above of the issues of generics, especially a pizza company causing property damage?

    I am assuming this is in relation to a product or service you have bought so your should check your contract to see who the contracting entity was. That is the party you are required to pursue. 

    You have to remember that companies, like people, are legal entities in their own right. You may say there are a series of companies that are in some way inter related but you can't sue Jack because you aren't sure if Bill or Bob did it just because the three of them are brothers. There are many reasons why companies have multiple entities and trading names, courts take more of a dim view on people who dont issue correctly than corporations with multiple entities.
    The property damage element could be anything from a delivery driver crashing into the OP's gatepost to a branch of Pizza Shelter/Daddy Tom's/Chess's Pizza allowing water or effluent to leak into the OP's commercial property.  The point, however, is that many scenarios of the above sort would be the domain of insurers.  Is there insurance in place for whatever has happened?  Don't try to do this alone if you don't need to.  
  • ronny1976
    ronny1976 Forumite Posts: 22
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    Thanks for all the replies. I now understand the vague fictitious example I gave previously isn't very helpful (apologies about that) so I will try to give more specifics without revealing anything identifiable info (e.g. I'll use fictional names for companies and people).

    I hired a builder to do some extensive buildings work. They hired a portaloo from another company for the labourers to use during the project which was placed at the front of the house. All was fine for a while but then things started to go downhill with the project. Long story short, the project was abandoned along with the portaloo and the builder has left the country. I tried what I could but bottom line was that the builder could not be pursued nor contacted.

    I cut my losses with the builder and contacted the portaloo company to take the heavily used loo away. I did not have any written paperwork or information for the portaloo as it was hired by the builder. When I contacted the portaloo company (as per the contact details on the loo), they continually fobbed me off saying they needed to get the builder's permission as the contract was with them. This went on for many weeks and the loo had become a stink bomb and a health hazard as well as causing damage to my property. At one point, I told them that if they didn't remove the loo then I would start to charge them rent for my land use. Many more weeks and phone calls went by and everything fell on deaf ears with no action.

    At this point, I then postal sent them a notice before claim (with my contact details) asking them to take the loo away and to pay costs for the damage and the accruing rent. After a couple of weeks, without any advanced communication, they unceremoniously removed the portaloo but never paid anything towards the damage or rent. I sent them a fellow up letter and got a dismissive email reply. I then filed a court claim against the company Portaloo's R Us Ltd. Their official reply as part of the claim process was that they are just an admin business and do not deal with portaloo's and saying that they have been targeted wrongly. At this point I start to look into things more and find out the following:

    • The company Portaloo's R Us Ltd that I thought was the one and only company in the picture, does exist on Companies House but it is listed as an Admin business.
    • All the branding was for Portaloo's R Us:
      • Label on the loo with the phone number and website
      • Calling the phone number will get me through to a receptionist for a Portaloo company and they will answer the phone indicating it is Portaloo's R Us.
      • Likewise, going to the website (which has a domain like www.portaloosrus.com) will show a page that has Portloo's R Us branding, photos, phone numbers and email address all consistent with the above.
      • All the vehicles that dropped off and took the loos away were branded Portaloo's R Us.
    • The director of Portaloo's R Us Ltd is Mr Bob (I've made this up of course)
    • Mr Bob is also listed as a director for a couple of other companies one of which is Toilets For Everyone Ltd (this is a limited company listed on Companies House), this company is listed as a portaloo hiring company. And it has the same address as Portaloo's R Us.
    I strongly suspect Toilets For Everyone Ltd is the correct company I need to claim against but I can't be 100% as there is no paperwork or evidence of this company being used. There is no reference to them in any of their emails or websites.

    Feels like the whole reason for Portaloo's R Us Ltd's existence is to create a legal shield for their actual operating business Toilets For Everyone Ltd so that it prevents/minimises the ability for consumers to claim against them. Both companies are run by the same directors.

    Hopefully, this gives more information and allows people to give better advice. So similar to my opening post, my questions are:
    1. What would happen if I continue the claim against Portaloo's R Us Ltd and it ends up in front of a judge? Will the judge see the blatant attempt to use a company as a legal shield? (sounds like this will go no where and I should withdraw this claim)
    2. How can I easily verify that Toilets For Everyone Ltd is the correct legal entity to pursue in a new claim? Happy to consider any reasonable and creative ideas.
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Forumite Posts: 6,225
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    What is your legal basis for charging rent or damages? How did it actually cause damage?

    Do you have Legal Expenses insurance anywhere? Maybe on your home insurance or if you are part of a union? They could advise if you have a case to follow.

    In a normal case you'd pursue the builder as the entity you are in contract with but clearly your prospects with them are minimal. It sounds like the portaloo company was happy for it to keep running up hire charges until the time it realised it wasn't going to get paid and hence finally collected the item. 

    It sounds like you've gone down a bit of a rabbit hole in the arguments and it's spun a little out of control. 
  • user1977
    user1977 Forumite Posts: 11,728
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    Sorry, but I don't see that you have a claim against any of the bog-related entities at all. You can't unilaterally charge them "rent", and if it's caused "damage" (what?) then that would appear to be the fault of your builder.
  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Forumite Posts: 27,433
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    ronny1976 said:
    I have incurred some financial losses and other property damage due to some company.
    Aside from the damage you're alleging, what actual financial losses have you incurred, and on what basis do you believe that the portaloo company is liable for these?

    ronny1976 said:
    After a couple of weeks, without any advanced communication, they unceremoniously removed the portaloo...
    What sort of ceremony did you have in mind? ;)
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