Inland Revenue chases Cobbetts over unpaid taxes

The residual Cobbetts shell is facing creditor claims from the HMRC after falling behind on payments prior to its takeover by DWF.

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Cobbetts, which filed notice to appoint administrators at the end of January (30 January 2012) and was subsequently acquired by DWF in a pre-pack deal (6 February 2013), had entered into a Time to Pay agreement with the Revenue in relation to its September and October 2012 Paye tax bill. While it made those initial payments, it fell behind on subsequent months’ tax bills.

A spokeswoman for KPMG, whose partners Mark Firmin, Brian Green and Howard Smith have been appointed administrators, said: “The deferred payments were made in November and December but not in Jan and the post administration Feb and March payments will also form a claim from HMRC.”

KPMG would not comment on how much Cobbetts owed, but it is believed that the firm’s tax liabilities and property costs were leading factors in its decision to seek protection from creditors and a rescue buyer.

When DWF announced its takeover of Cobbetts, the former released a statement that said: “Like many businesses, Cobbetts had built an infrastructure reflecting the buoyant economy of the mid 2000s and had put in place plans to reduce costs. However, poorer than expected  trading in November and December last year caused the firm to review its financial position and subsequently obtain an interim statutory moratorium to enable a sale of the business and its assets.”

DWF did not take all of Cobbetts in the merger. Walker Morris acquired the Manchester firm’s finance litigation team (7 February 2013), while HL Legal Solicitors bought Cobbetts’ debt recovery business Incasso (14 February 2013).