It was announced on 26 June 2019 that Wright Marshall, the Cheshire-based estate agent and auction house, had fallen into Administration. This will be a distressing time for all the employees of the company, and there are wider implications for anyone who has had any dealings with the business, particularly if they are owed money. This is an unfortunate circumstance for anyone to find themselves in whenever a company goes in to Administration.

Wright Marshall

Wright Marshall had several different arms including running real estate and professional services, a fine art auction house and a weekly livestock auction at Beeston Castle. It is reported that the company ran into financial troubles after a difficult trading period and a reduction in the volume of livestock being sold at the rural auction house. The directors have therefore placed the business into Administration and Joint Administrators – Anthony Collier and Ben Woolrych both of FRP Advisory - have been appointed.

Wright Marshall’s Rural Auction House – immediate closure

It is understood that some parts of the business (the real estate, professional services and fine art auctions) will continue to trade, and a purchaser for these sought. However, the rural auction house has closed with immediate effect and it is reported that staff have already lost their jobs. This is another example of the difficult times that our rural sector is facing, and the considerable knock-on consequences of the ongoing economic uncertainty, and other pressures.

We are already aware of farmers and businesses affected by this closure. The area has lost a longstanding agricultural company which provided a valuable trading market for the local region, with farmers now having to attend markets in Shropshire and Staffordshire instead, meaning that time and distance to markets will increase.

Wider implications are for those individuals and businesses that are owed money from the auction house for sales completed at previous markets. They are concerned, quite rightly, that this money will not now be paid, and the potentially negative impact that this may have on their cashflow resulting a more uncertainty for their business and livelihoods.

Top Tips

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some top tips for how to proceed:

  1. Contact the Joint Administrators to confirm that you are owed money straight away. There is a procedure for Administrators to follow and this includes identifying all individuals and companies that are owned money (creditors)

  2. Collate all information, documentation and evidence you have of the money that is owed to you by the company. If your only recourse is to prove your debt, you are likely to be asked to complete a “proof of debt” form in the course of the Administration for which supporting evidence may be needed;

  3. Keep up to date with the process. Administration of a company can take a long time, particularly if there are any issues around realising company assets or if any satellite litigation takes place. If you change address or company name, make sure that you keep the Joint Administrators updated of this; and

  4. Call your lawyers. There are a number of ways they may be able to help. You will need advice regarding the contractual provisions that governed the auction as these will ultimately determine how your money was held by the company, your ability to recover the money, and what other options may be available to you if you can’t prove you are an unsecured creditor. There are several variables that will impact this, for example was the auctioneer receiving payment as an “agent” or “principal”? Solicitors can also assist you in liaising with the Administrators to register your interest in the company and that you have a claim for unpaid money. It will be important for you to know your rights and what you may be entitled to recover.

The amount of money which is available for distribution to the company’s creditors will depend on the value of the assets that are realised by the Joint Administrators. In the case of Wright Marshall, the amount will likely depend on whether a purchaser can be found for the other parts of the business.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will get your money back, however it is important to ensure that you have put yourself and your business in the best position to do this. If you have any questions or are concerned about this, or any other company that has gone into Administration or Liquidation, please give a member of our team a call.

About the authors

Joel Woolf Partner

Joel advises estates and farmers in relation to strategic business planning including business continuity and succession issues.

Caroline Benfield Senior Associate

Caroline advises on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious personal and corporate insolvency matters.