Local Legal Eagle Saves The Day

An epic legal battle to sue the directors of a Stourbridge sports wear company has been unsuccessful thanks to the tenacity of a local solicitor.

Derek Simmonds of Talbots Solicitors took up the fight for the directors of Arc Sports three years ago in what seemed like a hopeless case.

Arc Sports, who were once one of the leading employers in Stourbridge, manufactured premiership football kits and clothing lines for major supermarkets until Elite Forwarders Ltd forced them to wind up in 2003. Since then Elite have pursued legal proceedings against the three directors of Arc Sports.

The case was born out of quite complicated circumstances, explains Derek Simmonds, Partner at Talbots Solicitors: “Things started to go wrong for Arc when competition from cheaper companies in China forced the business to move its production to Madagascar in 2002.”

Shortly after the re-location civil unrest threw the business into turmoil resulting in the loss of several national contracts. Elite then attempted a take over bid for Arc and, after failing to take the company over, seized football kits to the value of £300,000 that were held in port waiting to be distributed to football clubs at the start of the season.

“The situation that the three Directors found themselves in was unbelievable,” continues Derek Simmonds. “Their company had been left with crippling debts and Elite were suing them personally for substantial sums. To rub salt into the wound Elite’s associate production company owed Arc in excess of £130,000!”

Barrister John Stenhouse represented Arc in court in a case that had all the hallmarks of a Hollywood film; documents had to be couriered in from Guernsey overnight and witnesses were called in from as far a field as Prague. Hearings took place in different parts of the country and the final day of the trial left the defence team snow bound in Chester to celebrate overnight.

Speaking on behalf of the three directors, Mr Pip Hanson said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the legal action and feel that a huge burden has been lifted. We are very grateful for the hard work Derek and John put in to win our case and end the nightmare situation that we’ve been in for the last few years.”

“The case was particularly challenging because it involved some significantly difficult and complex areas of the law,” comments Derek Simmonds. “Initially it looked like the case could have gone either way but after sifting through the 140 boxes of records and reading the numerous witness accounts, inaccuracies in Elite’s claims started to appear.”

Nothing about this case was easy though with the case being adjourned twice before being finally resolved. The result left Elite facing hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs whilst the Arc directors are now considering bringing their own legal action against Elite.

ARC Directors Pip Hanson (left) and Ian Merritt (right), pictured with Derek Simmonds, Partner Talbots Solicitors (centre)