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Metrocab’s Frazer-Nash to be wound up putting taxi project in jeopardy

A winding up order has been allowed against the Metrocab manufacturer Frazer Nash over unpaid debts. An order was made against the company last month, but it returned to court to ask for more time to pay £1,555,942 to the HMRC. A High Court judge dismissed an appeal to give Frazer Nash more breathing space in which to raise the money to pay. The firm was due to launch a new zero emission cab to compete with the TXe, the only other cab on the market that meets the mayor’s clean air requirements, but has been bound up in a string of complex legal battles. The latest ruling could put the launch in jeopardy as it could now have to call in receivers, who will endeavour to see the debts are paid off by selling any assets available before bringing the business to a close. Lawyers for the company sought a further seven-day’s breathing space to give Frazer Nash more time to pay the money owed in full. “In the light of that amount, it is taking some time to obtain funds to pay,” counsel told Chief Registrar Judge Nicholas Briggs, one of the country’s senior insolvency judges.

However, lawyers for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs successfully opposed the application. Refusing to grant the application, Judge Briggs said the money owed was a “judgment debt” and continued: “No payment has been paid and HMRC opposes the application. The application fails.” He added that there was no evidence that Frazer-Nash would be able to pay the debt. After the hearing, lawyers revealed outside the court that the original petition debt was £1,671,611 but that this had been reduced to £1,555,942. In February this year Mychett, Surrey, based Frazer-Nash warded off moves at the court by Italian company, SALT S R L to wind them up. In another case last year, which began in the High Court and later moved to the appeal court, TXe manufacturer LEVC (formerly LTC) suffered a double defeat a complex trade mark dispute with Frazer- Nash. LEVC, took Frazer-Nash Research Ltd and Ecotive Ltd, to court over the new Metrocab. Lawyers for the company claimed that the Metrocab design infringed its trademark and amounted to “passing off.” The company had claimed among other things that it owned the goodwill in four styles of Fairway taxis and that the new Metrocab infringed its design. But Lord Justice Floyd said in dismissing the case in the appeal court that the new Metrocab was “strikingly different” to the LEVC taxis and found there had been no “passing off.”

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