Principal and staff sued for #163;3.2m

16th October 1998 at 01:00
The principal of a college and two of his staff are being sued for #163;3.2 million over a franchise dispute and face personal bankruptcy if they lose.

The CRT Group, a private training organisation (now relaunched as Spring Skills), which is suing North Derbyshire Tertiary College, has now named David Bunch the principal, his assistant Duncan Heywood and franchise manager Keith Pattinson in the action against the college.

The case, which goes to the Manchester High Court on Monday, concerns franchise contracts between the college and Link Training, a subsidiary of CRT. The college questioned the way the training was carried out, the hours claimed and the eligibility of the students. It has refused to pay the company.

The defendants have the support of local MPs Dennis Skinner and Tony Benn, and the matter has been raised in Parliament.

David Bunch, the principal said: "I think it is a bullying tactic, to try to shut us up."

Solicitors for the company have written to lawyers for the defendants to say: "You said in relation to Messrs Bunch, Haywood and Pattinson being defendants that they have no personal money to pay any judgment. However, they (and their families) presumably have money, and to the extent that they have assets then a judgment against them will be partially, if not fully satisfied, resulting in their bankruptcy in respect of any deficiency. It is not our clients' desire to bankrupt the officers of the college. However, if the court finds against the officers, our clients cannot be responsible for the consequences of the defence adopted by the college."

Karl Chapman, chief executive of the company insisted that the individuals had been joined in the action only because the college argued the contracts were ultra vires (unlawful). The company had no choice in law, he claimed.

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