Here to Help

CEBTA stands for Campaign for Ethics for Business Transfer Agents. We campaign for more ethical contracts. This site was built and contributed to by clients of RTA (Business Consultants) Limited who have their Head Office in Stockport, Cheshire and we are exercising our right to free speech under the Human Rights Act.

RTA are one of a few Business Transfer Agents - eg Vendor Direct, Advent, Meridian, Knightsbridge, Turner Butler, Sovereign, Hilton Smythe, Ernest Wilson (not an exhaustive list) who either call themselves 'Estate Agents' or carry out transactions concerning Real Estate. The latter sometimes call themselves 'Business Brokers'.  Some of these Agents have been known to breach the regulations of the redress scheme to which they belong eg The Property Ombudsman (TPOS). Some Agents did not Register on the OFT's Money Laundering Register by the due date so some transactions with their customers have been judged 'illegal by statute'. The OFT Register has been replaced with HMRC's Register.

Some Agents do not carry out the full checks as to who are the beneficial owners of the business or property, plus personal identity checks (e.g. a passport or driving licence) on the same-said owners BEFORE commencing the business relationship, i.e. before the contract is signed. This is a lack of "Customer Due Diligence" and many judges have ruled the contract unenforceable because of this - after all, it would be in the Agent's interests to check that they are dealing with an authorised signatory to the document they call an 'agreement'.. See The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 s5, 7, 9 and 11.

There has been a High Court case - RTA v Bracewell - successfully defended by Mr Bracewell, which rested on RTA's failure to Register but that only applies to RTA documents signed before 2nd November 2012. See http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2015/630.html

The Daily Mirror have reported on the situation - see http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/hope-small-businesses-being-hounded-5359451

Since April 2016 RTA have claimed in correspondence to their customers that the Unfair Contract Terms Act does not apply, 'because [you] are not a consumer'. RTA have sent the complete RTA v Bracewell case to 'prove' their point. The case only 'proves' that RTA lost the case because of it being illegal by Statute because of the failure to Register. In its numerous pages it does not mention The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (UCTA 1977) which is nothing to do with being a consumer or not. UCTA, and The Supply of Goods and Services Act are the main Acts that RTA and the other Agents breach.

We are not legally qualified but we welcome enquiries from solicitors who want to know the specific information and evidence that helps ordinary businessmen and women Defend themselves in Court or negotiate a reasonable 'without admitting liability' full-and-final settlement figure. We have a few solicitor recommendations who already have the information a Defendant needs e.g. Matthew Flynn of Tinkler Solicitors in Ipswich,  Matthew Moy of MLP Law in the North West of England (Ernest Wilson specialism).

We are not competitors of RTA - we are all vetted business owners who have been harassed or misled by RTA or other Agents into parting with £THOUSANDS for doing (in our opinion) very little - for example, a miniscule advertisement amongst many other adverts on a web-site that the potential viewer has to register on in  order to gain access to the adverts is hardly going to get many buyers. If you would like some support with your case then please e-mail (see below). Alternatively you can use the Resources section of this site by clicking on it.

You can contact CEBTA volunteers on info@cebta.org.uk but please write some detail eg When you signed a contract, what your current problem is and the name of your business as a very minimum. If your e-mail "bounces back" please use RTAvictimhelp@rescueteam.com

We sometimes get asked "who is a reliable business marketing agent?". Please see the web-site of Clinton Lee of TheExitFirm.co.uk. Below is an extract:

Clinton maintains the UK's only extensive knowledge base on Business Brokers and other Merger & Aquisitions intermediaries. He assists larger businesses (£1M+ rev) by advising and guiding them through the broker choice. He steers them away from brokers with exploitative terms and practices; matches them with a shortlist of quality brokers (based on brokers' industry specialisations, success rates, geographical coverage, fees etc); and negotiates the broker contact, terms and costs on behalf of clients to save the typical client several tens of thousands of pounds ...and much heartache. He advises smaller businesses that they need to exert extra caution with brokers operating at the lower end of the market. In most cases the owners are better off  selling their business themselves than using a broker and, having sold so many of his own businesses without assistance, Clinton advises other small business owners on how to go about a DIY sale.

Some Judges seem to be interpreting the contract you have signed as "a contract for the sale of immovable property" or "a contract for the sale of a business".  It is, in fact, only a contract for MARKETING your property or business, only YOU as business owner, can effect the sale and you will need a solicitor to draw up the contract.

If the Agent alleges it is a business-to-business contract, and has no cooling-off period, does it display that information prominently at the beginning of the document? If not, you could Defend with The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 where a contract written on the stronger party's written standard terms must pass the test of reasonableness. Even sole selling rights should have a cut-off date and not continue 'until terminated/cancelled' . Consider whether the document you signed breaches The Estate Agents (Provision of Information) Regulations 1991. Consider appointing a solicitor well-versed in contract law - we can return a list by e-mail.

If any Agents attempt to charge you VAT for a breach of their Agreement, please read the case of  Vehicle Control Services Limited’s where the Court of Appeal ruled that the penalty fees charged did not relate to any supply of goods or services, but constituted damages for breach of contract, which did not attract VAT. See www.peninsulagrouplimited.com/blog/supply-and-consideration-or-not.

AND HMRC's site www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/vat-supply-and-consideration/vatsc35000

(Copy and paste either link to a new tab of your browser)

The articles/cases/stories listed are the opinions of the contributors. CLICK ON THE RESOURCES LINK (TOP RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THIS PAGE)