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, Preferred Commercial, Advent, Meridian, Knightsbridge, Turner Butler, Sovereign, Hilton Smythe, Intelligent Business Transfer, 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' where no building or land is involved.  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 Supervised Business Register that you can check for yourself via the Internet - https://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/msbregister/checkTerms.do If the name of the Agent or business broker is not on the Register, or if you signed a contract before the agent/broker signed the Register, your contract is also potentially illegal. HMRC'S Guidance states that business brokers need to Register. Every separate business that a group such as Ernest Wilson, Knightsbridge etc own, and have Registered as a name and Company Number at Companies House, needs its own separate Supervised Business Register Registration Number and hence its own Certificate. Check your contract and double-check with the latter-named companies themselves; check further with HMRC - there are contact details on HM Gov pages. The search results, by name and postcode, currently reveal that Meridian did not Register until  5th April 2013; Ernest Wilson (West Yorkshire) Limited did not Register until 14th May 2015; Knightsbridge did not Register until 11th March 2016, Intelligent Business Transfer 24th January 2017.

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 1977 (UCTA) does not apply, 'because [you] are not a consumer'. RTA have sent the complete RTA v Bracewell case to 'prove' their point. In fact the case 'proves' that RTA lost the case because of it being illegal by Statute because of RTA's failure to Register.  In actuality, UCTA and The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 are the main Acts that RTA and the other Agents breach. Both these Acts apply to Businesses even if you are deemed a non-consumer. A limited company is an entity so cannot be a consumer but in certain circumstances you, as a natural person, can.

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 in Ipswich mattflynn73@hotmail.com Jon Heath at Levins Law in Liverpool, Matthew Colbourne of DAS Law,  Ardeshir Matini (Turner Butler specialism). These solicitors should be asked for a quote once they have given some initial help on the 'phone. Firstly, please CLICK ON THE RESOURCES LINK (TOP RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THIS PAGE) for much more information, and please read the top three articles before contacting us. Also, whether you consider yourself in debt or not, a free service is available from NATIONAL DEBTLINE by phone or web-chat.

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 advertisement, is hardly going to get many buyers. If you would like some support with your case then please e-mail (see below) after you have read our Resources page.

You can contact CEBTA volunteers and researchers 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 Some researchers may ask for a low-value donation if you have an actual court case pending, though we still recommend solicitors to handle that for you after the first stage.

We sometimes get asked "who is a reliable business marketing agent?". Please see the web-site of Clinton Lee of TheExitFirm.co.uk. http://theexitfirm.co.uk  or http://ukbusinessbrokers.com    Below is a summary of Clinton's services:

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. With smaller businesses, in most cases the owners are better off advertising their business themselves and can advise 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/conveyance.

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? Or at all?Who are the named parties?  How many pages are there, is there writing on the reverse and is the print very small? You could Defend with The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 - which applies to all those deemed 'a business' - 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:


The articles/cases/stories listed are the opinions of the contributors.