Separate Legal Personality
Ciaran Wells, Senior In-House Solicitor, Lancashire County Council
Mike Wilkinson, Barrister, 18 St John Street Chambers
As well as advising on all manner of commercial and procurement matters, the Council’s in-house commercial lawyers regularly encounter issues in connection with the provision of care services. Given the size of the Council, the number of services it commissions and the way in which the care market operates, the Council is often faced with situations where a company's inability to meets its contractual commitments is brought to its urgent attention. Sometimes companies default on their obligations or give extremely short notice of an imminent default, for it later to come to light that the company directors' behaviour should be called into question. This leaves the Council with little comfort that they will be compensated if they pursue a company which may no longer have any assets. At other times, the Council is persuaded to pay for services on the faith of misrepresentations about the company’s longevity and wherewithal. In such cases, the question arises whether those running the company might be sued personally and how to go about bringing such proceedings to impose personal liability. In that connection, it is not uncommon for outside counsel to be instructed to assist.
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