A valuations subsidiary of Spicerhaart is being put into liquidation because of escalating claims against it by ‘ambulance chasers’ – even though it ceased trading five years ago.
It is understood that Spicerhaart has sunk millions into settling claims brought against its arms-length subsidiary H.C. Wolton & Sons, a firm of chartered surveyors and valuation providers.
But over the last year, the number of claims which Spicerhaart felt were totally groundless accelerated, with no-win, no-fee law firms approaching lenders. Many would have hoped for lucrative out-of-court settlements.
Other property firms, notably Countrywide, are also thought to be targeted by firms, encouraged by what one source described as the PPI mis-selling bandwagon.
A statement from Spicerhaart did not mince its words about the fate of long-established H.C. Wolton & Sons.
It said that Woltons “has been forced into liquidation due to escalating claims regarding alleged false property valuations relating to years prior to period 2007 – when it ceased trading.
“Such spurious claims have accelerated recently, spurred mostly by feverish no-win, no-fee lawyers seeking to take a punt on contesting valuations made before the advent of the credit crunch.
“The nature of these claims, relying on subjective property valuations made many years ago, has resulted in a number of long and very costly legal cases with associated legal fees often much larger than the claims themselves.
“Spicerhaart has endeavoured to settle legitimate claims over the last five years on behalf of Woltons, despite Woltons being a totally standalone subsidiary with no recourse to the assets of the group.
“However, recent claims have increasingly been made at the instigation of ambulance chasing lawyers rather than legitimate claims from lenders. The costs of dealing with these claims have risen to astronomical proportions as lawyers argue over the intricacies of the valuations made many years ago.”
H.C. Wolton & Sons was established in 1910 and Spicerhaart acquired it in 1995. The company ceased trading in 2007 when Spicerhaart decided to refocus its surveying and valuation business.
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