The Big 2014 Cull: it’s all clear now

Cull 2014

Reading the articles quoted here: £7m offer, the reasons for the big site clearout of 2014 have become crystal clear. The article says that they allegedly rejected a £7m offer in 2014. As one of our contributors pointed out, the articles seem to contradict each other, which puts in doubt the validity of their claim.

Compare this

Legal Futures Article

Ms Briscoe set up Legal Beagles with Sharon Coleman in 2007, which has expanded to a point where it has 70,000 members and receives 150,000 unique visitors a month.

Ms Briscoe said a private equity firm offered her and Ms Coleman £7m last year for majority ownership of the forum, but they declined because they “could not guarantee what would happen to it”.

She said that, unlike the forum, the comparison website was a fully commercial venture, backed by £350,000 of investment from seven private individuals.

The Law Society Gazette Article

Since its launch in 2007, Legal Beagles has attracted more than two million unique visitors and registers 20,000 new members per year.

Briscoe and Coleman said they rejected an offer from private equity investors in April 2014 to buy a majority shareholding in the forum, to ensure the site remained independent and ethical. The company was estimated at the time to have a total value of £7m.

The numbers don’t add up

So if it had a total value of £7m (can we have some of those LB flying pigs here please?), it follows an offer for majority ownership would be less than £7m, or else the company has a total value of over £7m. All this is irrelevant though as Legal Beagles is worth £7m funny money notes.

Regardless of the numbers, the fact is, they were considering selling the site in the beginning of 2014. In fact, they were considering that since the summer of 2013 when the rumours first started spreading through the grapevine, only then the site was 5 times more valuable: a cool £35m! At that time the total membership base was around 35,000 so some clever beagle decided that they could charge £1,000 for each member and make it £35m. Anyone who knows the first thing about business would see the problem here: a long list of members doesn’t mean much if most of them are not active.

The Big Cull of 2014

The fact is, they were thinking of selling the site but there was a little obstacle on the way: what would happen to those people who had built up and run the site over those six or seven years? The honourable thing to do would be, of course, to give them their share. There were also one or two people working behind the scenes, people you didn’t see all the time but who were instrumental in helping Kate get her foot in the door at Howlett Clarke. Those people would probably also like their share. There had been others who’d built up the site and had been either banned (see the Ban Club) or been told to bugger off (see the Buggered Off Club).

Once those rather troublesome people were out of the way, the Beagles could get on with the task of attempting to get the best price for Legal Beagles without having to worry about sharing out the profits. The Cull was planned in such a way as to make the Banned Beagles look like they’d been up to no good and deserved to be fired, evicted, sacked, jettisoned, ejected. Whatever you want to call it, the timing can’t be a coincidence.

£7m offers don’t just come out of the blue, if there was such an offer (or any other offer for that matter), in April 2014, then it can be safely assumed that negotiations would have been afoot a couple of months earlier. The Mass Cull took place the last week of February 2014.

 
Was it a coincidence? No way!

 

21 Comments

  1. Flaming Parrot says:

    Oh yes I remember hearing about the £35m

    Wasn’t that back in 2013? That may be why they didn’t take the £7m then, why settle for a fifth?

  2. grimreaper says:

    Errr! Have a bit of a problem with Beagle land manure here. Some long time ago CleverClogs sent me a pile of official documentation as to the set up and structure of LB. If memory serves correctly it does not equate with the statements being made in these articles. I don’t have it all now as I did dump a load of stuff after my lifetime bans. I am sure that one of the founders and company directors was Cetelco and lady friend whose other directorship had something to do with a garden centre??????

    • Legaleaglet says:

      Oh yes, Cetelco, that’s the guy who started out the original LB site alongside the lady in question. We should really get Clever Clogs on here to tell the story, does anyone know how to contact him? He’ll have a wealth of stories to tell.

      Oh and welcome to All Sorts, Grimreaper.

  3. grimreaper says:

    I have just checked I do have a personal e-mail address for CleverClogs dating back to February 2012. its quite a memory stirrer to see all that old stuff and the aggravation that went on.

    I will go thought all that correspondence is still there, if not and you wish I will try to contact him and ask him to come along.

    Thank you for the welcome good people. It is heartening .

  4. grimreaper says:

    Sorry my typing worsens by the day Is there any way I can edit and correct after posting please? But I think you get the gist.

    • Legaleaglet says:

      Yes, we do get the gist. I thought if you were a registered user as you are, you could click on ‘Edit’ and that would take you to the back-end.

    • Inciteful says:

      Personally I have no wish to see or hear from clever clogs as he seems to enjoy using a big stick in a pile of manure

      • Legaleaglet says:

        Yes, he does like to stir it a bit and he was the only one who gave them some cause of action for a ban at the time of the Mass Cull with one of his posts. I guess he just couldn’t resist.

  5. John says:

    How could Cleverclogs know anything about the original set up of LB when he had nothing to do with it and did not register on LB until a good while later?

  6. grimreaper says:

    In reply John, what he appended to me in a PM on LB were copies of official documents obtained via Companies House archives. From those you can further investigate director histories, other appointments etc. Whatever your opinions of the guy he was a good researcher into such matters and seemed to have a nose for anything “not quite right” shall we say.
    regards.

    • Legaleaglet says:

      Yes, one thing that can be said about Clogs is that he knows how to dig up dirt. That’s not quite the same as having insider info as the original LB founding members would. I recall there being another limited company to start with, before Celame, but can’t remember the name now. Would be useful to know the name to see if it was put into liquidation or what happened to it.

    • John says:

      If you’re talking about the anomaly with the name of said Director, then Cleverclogs knows nothing. Nothing at all, except what was left for snoopers to find.

  7. John says:

    The first company was Consumer Legal Ltd, which was formed solely by Cetelco. It was allowed to die (it did not go into liquidation) because neither Sharon, Kate nor Jules bothered to answer the shareholder agreement email and it was clear that the site was not ever going to make a profit, so the company served no purpose.

    Sharon wanted to become a director and this was when it was decided that Kate and Cetelco would each give her 10% of their share. This did not happen because as above, none of them bothered to answer the email.

    If she were a founding member, as she claims, then she would already have had a share. She was not.

  8. grimreaper says:

    Name & Registered Office:
    CONSUMER LEGAL LIMITED
    LITTON HOUSE, SAVILLE ROAD
    WESTWOOD
    PETERBOROUGH
    CAMBS
    PE3 7PR
    Company No. 06296864

    Status: Dissolved 05/05/2009
    Date of Incorporation: 29/06/2007

    Country of Origin: United Kingdom
    Company Type: Private Limited Company
    Nature of Business (SIC):
    None Supplied
    Accounting Reference Date: 30/06
    Last Accounts Made Up To: (NO ACCOUNTS FILED)

    For “Consumer Legal Limited” Reports can be purchased via the old website. There is a new Consumer Legal Limited incorporated in early 2015.

  9. grimreaper says:

    The sole director of that latter company is a Mark Roberts Accountant and its in Cheshire. When you move into the limited company sphere with your business its no longer a matter of “whats left for snoopers” its what is in the public record(domain) and open to view by anyone. For those who do not know and there are plenty, all company information etc. has to be published in the London Gazette including dissolution, administration, filing, change of officers, your accounts. etc. In fact how many sheets of toilet paper you use. The Consumer Legal Limited I assume you are talking about as above was dissolved and struck off the register in 2009. And of course the new beta free data service gives almost anything from Companies House from 1996.

    • Legaleaglet says:

      If the company was incorporated in 2007, there couldn’t have been a sole director, even in 2008 you still needed another director and a company secretary. At some point the rules for incorporation changed to allow a limited company to have just one director and no-one else, I don’t know when that change happened, other than it must have been between 2009 and 2013.

      The accountant in question may have been a nominee director.

  10. grimreaper says:

    And I should point out that they got a real shufty on as well to get rid of it. The Companies Act 2006 most of the onerous provisions of which were enacted in September of 2009 for those of us actually in business and having limited companies and those provisions made it extremely difficult to just “let a company die”. For starters the failure to file accounts and company returns incurred automatic fines (£80 a pop first offences). There are now in the wake of CA2006 stringent conditions which have to be met to dissolve a company and then get struck from the register via voluntary dissolution. voluntary Liquidation is another matter. Please do not argue the point we have just dissolved a company fairly and legally and it took from mid September last until the end of January this year to climb through the hoops. There are small fees to be paid and there cannot be a credit or debit balance, it has to be zero on the accounts otherwise there will forfeiture to the Crown. Been there just done it!

    I have not checked but I am pretty sure M.Cetelco would have had to have a co director as all limited companies had to have such and it was very recently as such that single director companies were allowed. And there still has to be a responsible person on whom formal papers can be served like the old company secretary of previous Acts.

    • Legaleaglet says:

      Ah yes, I posted about that in response to your comment above before reading this one, I know in 2008 single director companies were not allowed, so neither would they have been in 2007.

      • grimreaper says:

        yes. Because the Companies Act 2006 was alleged to be the most complex piece of legislation ever placed on the Statute Book in the history of this country it became a nightmare to try and follow what was to happen. It didn’t just “come in” its provisions were phased in over a period. I assume that single director companies became a legal entity at some time during the 2008/2009 period. I know that the things that effected us most was enacted that September of 2009. However a simple check with Companies House researchers (the free ones!) like “companycheck” and “businesscheck” shows that Angus Daniel Cetelco did have a second director one Katharine Katya Briscoe and a company secretary under the name of DDS Consultancy which has a whole history of appointments and resignations. Its all a shame that things have gone the way that they have but that is the nature of fora various. Those of us that know the situation are fully aware of the AAD nonsense and I ask no further comment on that. MSE is purely a “Pay Up, P**S off, Get a lIfe” site and CAG, well what can I say. That also appeared when a number got banned or put on permanent moderation to have sold its soul to the devil as well. Its funny as I have started to get their e-mail newsletters again. Are they struggling for traffic as well now? and now we have another anal sphincter muscle sun shiner called “The Debt Camel” appearing the last time I posted a while ago on LB.

  11. Jon says:

    I do wonder about the reasons that Debt Camel has suddenly started posting , while I admit that some of her info is quite good particularly if you want to take formal action such as a DRO or BR , it is just like the rest of them when fighting court cases are concerned

    It is very easy to get into a state of mind where all you do is send a CCA and CPR request off but what the hell will they suggest when an agreement, enforceable or not comes back. Quite frankly even I know more about what make a pre 2007 agreement enforceable and I do struggle to understand the technicalities. I actually do not know if they would know a UE agreement if it slapped them in the face

    I noticed Nemesis’ boyfriend posting about a UE agreement the other day on Cag and his argument was that the terms were clearly not on the reverse , even though they had included the terms in the CCA request.
    The terms were the generic terms that accompany all credit cards , he didn’t notice that there was not 1 of the PT’s on the form. Actually there was one, the debtors name and address and that of halifax. Nothing about interest rate or how the credit limit would be determined, you know, just the stuff that doesn’t really matter

    I will say that Cag is not all bad particularly if you take away the debt advice although there are one or two new site team who are trying very hard to help people with pdls

    On that note , caught Nem out in another little lie
    Statement 1) Kapama are issuing a lot of ccj claims
    Statement 2 ) I do not know much about PDL defences as it s a long time since I was involved

    Then another 1

    Statement 1) I believe that the COA is still the old tried and tested from due date of first missed payment
    Statement 2 ) The limitations clock starts when they first demand full repayment

    He can not have it both ways

    • Legaleaglet says:

      I do wonder about the reasons that Debt Camel has suddenly started posting , while I admit that some of her info is quite good particularly if you want to take formal action such as a DRO or BR , it is just like the rest of them when fighting court cases are concerned

      Debt Camel is a CAB advisor. If you go to her website, you’ll find she mentions snowballing, DMPs, IVAs, DROs and BR as debt solutions. There’s no mention of challenging debts because that’s not something CAB advisors normally do. If you got a claim for money you actually “owe”, the CAB would tell you to prepare a budget, fill in the admission form and return it together with your offer. They won’t advise you to defend a claim using the CCA, even assuming they have heard about it. Nor would they suggest an alternative such as a Tomlin order which is often used as a last resort on LB. Their view is that, if push comes to shove, you can always get away with paying £1/month if that’s all you can afford, so never mind the CCJ. What they don’t take into account is that, if you want to work in the financial sector or in legal services, a CCJ will stop you from working in those areas for six years. Law firms don’t do credit checks but they still check for CCJs for employment purposes. It’s not always just about the money.

      Also legal advice is not quite the same as debt advice. Knowing how to budget and prioritise payments (what the “cabbies” do most of the time when dealing with debt matters) is in a completely different league from court procedure.

      It is very easy to get into a state of mind where all you do is send a CCA and CPR request off but what the hell will they suggest when an agreement, enforceable or not comes back.

      It’s not just a question of saying the agreement is unenforceable as it stands, you need to say exactly what makes you think it is. District Judges are not consumer credit specialists, a fact that’s often forgotten. Many probably wouldn’t know the CCA any better than Nemesis, so you’d need to point out what section says what and why the document you have does not comply with it. It’s not that simple.

      The terms were the generic terms that accompany all credit cards , he didn’t notice that there was not 1 of the PT’s on the form. Actually there was one, the debtors name and address and that of halifax. Nothing about interest rate or how the credit limit would be determined, you know, just the stuff that doesn’t really matter

      It can be confusing when you look at the legislation, especially given that the PTs are not actually in the CCA itself but hidden away in a not-so-well-known Statutory Instrument. A good summary can be found here: The prescribed terms.

      I will say that Cag is not all bad particularly if you take away the debt advice

      I guess that depends on what day you choose to visit. They go through stages.

      On that note , caught Nem out in another little lie
      Statement 1) Kapama are issuing a lot of ccj claims
      Statement 2 ) I do not know much about PDL defences as it s a long time since I was involved

      He makes them up as he goes along. PDLs are not that easy to defend based on the usual arguments, even the CCA request is all but useless as they’ll just reel off a printout of T&Cs. How many PDL borrowers do you know who have printed out, read and safely archived their original T&Cs?

      Statement 1) I believe that the COA is still the old tried and tested from due date of first missed payment
      Statement 2 ) The limitations clock starts when they first demand full repayment

      Both *CAN* be right but not for the same account.
      1) applies to credit products with set repayment dates which fall under s.5 of the LA 1980 (loans, credit cards, home shopping accounts, etc.) although there’s been recent decisions to the contrary, they are not binding.
      2) applies mostly to overdrafts where there are no set repayment dates and fall under s.6 of the LA 1980.
      It’s either one or the other.

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