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Skiing Europe/Chris Reynard - Children's ski holiday left in ruins.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Stephen101 wrote:
snowjoe,

I have my doubts whether SE will get very far with such a defence in this case - guven that he has changed the arrangements in a material way - different hotel, mode of transport, country and costs - SE has to offer a full cash refund under the law.


I have to dip in here, because you keep saying this as if it is a legal fact but that simply is not the case, the situation may differ from school to school and some if not all of the arrangements may well have been fluid, but SE had not formally changed the arrangements by writing to the school and informing the school of change, offering an alternative, having that alternative rejected and then the school having the option to cancel in accordance with the respective regulation. Yes it was all 11th hour for schools like Tavistock and that may mean mitigating circumstances, but it seems some schools cancelled when they heard from third parties of difficulties that SE had with respect to bookings etc., which in my view means that it is not a nailed on legal certainty that SE is legally due to be recompense the schools.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Bode Swiller, I am sure you won't take offence if I say I hope you are utterly wrong. wink

rayscoops wrote:
but it seems some schools cancelled when they heard from third parties of difficulties that SE had with respect to bookings etc., which in my view means that it is not a nailed on legal certainty that SE is legally due to be recompense the schools.


If you mean by "third parties" say a coach firm which can testify that there was no booking made, and/or a hotel that similarly could testify no booking had been made right up the last minute the school could afford to wait before making a decision, I would hope that would be sufficient. And in situations where a change of country was already being put forward, that seems to me to be a significant change and enough in itself to justify pulling out. None of this is new to the discussion.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Thu 21-04-11 8:40; edited 1 time in total
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ccl, there's a first time for everything.
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snowjoe,
Quote:

If SE were trading as a sole trader business, then doesn't that mean it can't go bankrupt unless the assets of the sole trader are exhausted? All this shifting the business from a sole trader status to a Limited status seems just too cynical to be true and yet SE carry on.


I think part of the problem is that there is some uncertainty as to exactly how SE was trading, from outward appearances one would assume that it was trading as a limited company, however searching for accounting records indicate this may not be the case and that in fact Mr Reynard was actually trading as a sole trader, it would be intresting to hear how ccl, got paid, if it was a cheque from Skiing Europe Ltd, from Mr Reynard Trading as Skiing Europe or just a personal cheque from Mr Reynard, if it was from Skiing Europe Limited and Skiing Europe Limited has been telling HMG for years that it was a dormant company then Mr Reynard may owe huge sums of money to HMG for unpaid tax.

rayscoops,
Quote:

one cheque from SE could have put all the Interlaken hotels back on side


I don't think so, as I understand things the issue with the Interlaken Hotel (The reason the school cancelled) was not that SE had failed to pay outstanding bills but rather that they had never actually reserved the rooms there despite telling the school they had and taking the money off the school for those rooms in that hotel.
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UnfortunatelyD G Orf, I can't remember the details of the cheque other than it certainly had Skiing Europe printed on it. Whether it said Ltd or not I could not say. It wasn't in appearance a personal cheque, but then I could open an account with my bank with a fancy name like CCL Enterprises and have that printed on the cheques,

That is really interesting about the hotel. If it was a matter of the booking never having been made, SE wouldn't even have paid over a deposit which brings us back to same old question - where the hell has the money the schools paid over ended up?

Sorry, I forgot, there were all those schools "in arrears" rolling eyes
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rayscoops,
Quote:

Stephen101 wrote:
snowjoe,

I have my doubts whether SE will get very far with such a defence in this case - guven that he has changed the arrangements in a material way - different hotel, mode of transport, country and costs - SE has to offer a full cash refund under the law.


I have to dip in here, because you keep saying this as if it is a legal fact but that simply is not the case, the situation may differ from school to school


I was commenting on the Mount Grace case - and my argument was based on the Regulations which say that if the tour operator changes the arrangements then they (SE) in this case have to offer a full refund. In other cases different arguments will apply as we have discussed ad infinitum. It will be for the courts to determine what the legal facts are not you or me - I just present my view, but Reynard's letter makes it pretty clear that he should have been offering a refund.
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So who/what is actually Bonded under AiTO ? SE Limited or Reynard T/A SE or some other derivitive ? and who did, I wonder, the schools actually pay - the Bonded entity or maybe the unbonded entity.

ccl wrote:
rayscoops wrote:
but it seems some schools cancelled when they heard from third parties of difficulties that SE had with respect to bookings etc., which in my view means that it is not a nailed on legal certainty that SE is legally due to be recompense the schools.


If you mean by "third parties" say a coach firm which can testify that there was no booking made, and/or a hotel that similarly could testify no booking had been made right up the last minute the school could afford to wait before making a decision, I would hope that would be sufficient. And in situations where a change of country was already being put forward, that seems to me to be a significant change and enough in itself to justify pulling out. None of this is new to the discussion.


I agree with all of that but each school seems to have been in a unique position, so do you know for a fact that the scenario you put forward exists for each and every school ? and the case for half term and easter bookings in comparison are very different indeed. It maybe the case that there had been bookings in some instances and it is in the interest of hotels to be less than 100% truthful when they say 'no bookings' - we simply do not know, but just because SE had these problems behind the scenes does not mean that they had 'legally' changed anything for it to have triggered the right for a school to cancel when the schools did actually cancel.

All I am doing is pointing out the vagueness of the situation and that it is by no means a clear cut legal situation for the schools and whilst all of this trudges along the parents are out of pocket.

D G Orf, we simply do not know the situation in each and every case, which is why absolute statements tha 'SE has to offer a full cash refund under the law' are very misleading for parents to be reading on here


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 21-04-11 9:19; edited 2 times in total
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Stephen101, crossed posts, but I have already said that Mount Grace has played this out as good as they possibly could have and it seems that they did not even formally cancel the holiday and simply let it 'expire', thus proving beyond a shaddow of a doubt the non performance by SE in this case.

For other schools it is much less clear indeed
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ccl, I agree the question of what's happened to the money is very interesting, if the various reports that have been published are all to be believed SE was in serious trouble before the February half term fiasco, No Italian resort was willing to take bookings as many had still not been paid from last year, apparently other resorts elsewhere may have had similar problems.

A number (just how many is still unknown) of coach companies either refused to transport the kids or would only do so after they had been paid directly by the schools.

At least one school apparently had to return early as their hotel bill was not covered.

At least one other school had to pay thousands of Euros in order to finish their trip.

Apparently one Skiing Europe Rep was arrested in one resort because Skiing Europe had failed to pay for ski hire (it might have been ski passes).

Thousands of Euros are apparently owed to various Ski Pass companies (possibly tens of thousands of Euros)

A significant number of schools have had to cancel their trips as no confirmation of accommodation could be made despite repeated calls to SE and eventually direct to hotels that the schools had thought they'd paid for.

Most if not all of SE's ski instructors have not been paid this year by SE (some may have been, by the schools direct or at least had costs covered)

As I understand things all the schools have paid well in advance for their trips so if we say that in total the schools that have not travelled have given SE at least £500,000 then allow at least a similar amount in outstanding bills owed by SE there's at least £1M missing maybe a lot more.

With regards to Cheques I'm a sole trader and my Cheques have to have My name followed by Trading as my Business Name printed just above the Signature block, from memory Limited Company cheques will have For and on behalf of followed by company name Ltd. on them in the same location.
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D G Orf,

Your understanding about the hotels in Interlaken tallies with what I have been told and what the schools also reported to the press. The hotel said they had no bookings from SE or any available rooms - and other hotels in Interlaken said thay had no bookings either - SE wouldn't confirm where they had bookings.

All this has been said many times - yes we are reporting what we have been told by the schools, but others are making up suppositions based on one of Reynard's many versions or from their imagination. I'll leave others to decide which might be the better source.
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Bode Swiller wrote:
Haven't read all of this thoroughly but I think Reynard has got away with it. If it is fraud, it isn't a big enough fraud and, in any case, there's a question over whether all this is a civil matter - mad I know but the CPS let a lot of seemingly "nailed-on" cases go untried. SFO aren't interested below seven zeros. Basically he didn't take any one person for a lot of money and he didn't bash any old ladies over the head. So I reckon he'll avoid the attentions of the criminal court. His business is finished (presumably) so Trading Standards are a blunt instrument. He sounds like a determined, unashamed, wiley old fox and he'll be very difficult to pin down and even harder to extract money from should anyone sue him and win. The media have already forgotton all about it, this thread will begin to disappear and that'll leave a lot of parents and schools (depending on who takes the fall) out of pocket and a ton of disappointed kids (who'll get over it). There will be a lot of blame shifting between schools and LAs but, in the end, people will write off their loss and move on because that's probably the only way ahead. Just a personal view, I hope it's a different outcome but I think he's got away with it.


Bode Swiller has been round the streets and knows the trade. So what he writes is backed up by knowledge as well as common sense. I suspect he's got this one right.
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rayscoops, Please don't misquote me I didn't simply say that SE had to offer a cash refund under the law, what I said was that if SE had made changes (I think it's actually substantial changes) in the booking they had to offer a full cash refund by law.
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Stephen101, Yes, I think what's particularly important is the failure of Mr Reynard to actually say where he'd booked, surely if he had actually booked alternate accommodation he could simply have said the name of the location, the fact that he consistently says alternate accommodation had been booked but fails to say either the name of the accommodation or even it's location is not very convincing.
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D G Orf, sorry but I was not quoting you, I was talking generally about the situation.

edit - personally I think that if SE had offered changes (I think it's actually substantial changes) to the schools and that the schools had rejected them, then SE had to offer a full cash refund by law. Slightly different scenario that may well have a different legal outcome


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Thu 21-04-11 9:38; edited 1 time in total
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snowjoe,

All the evidence points to SE being a sole trader - and therfore you are right in that SE can only be stopped from trading when Reynard's assets are exhausted and he becomes bankrupt. Unfortunately, in this case the legal process takes time - you have to right a letter demanding payment of what you owe and given the other party time to respond, you then have to apply to the court for a judgement and that judgment will then probably give Reynard some time to pay up - and it is only then that the creditors can apply for bankruptcy. From what I've heard this whole process is well in hand and was started pretty quickly after half term (the lawyers were able to get thheir arguments together quicker than this bulleting board - fortunately). The authorities can step in with injunctions to prevent fraudulent trading - but my guess is that they would like to see some firm court judgements against Reynard before they start that ball rolling.

Many in the corporate world and others are frustrated by the process for recovering debts - even after the last Government tried to speed up the process by allowing the charging of penalty interest - but that is where we are with the process. There are plenty in the corporate world who use the process to delay payments until the last minute - especially round the year end when they do not want to show too much debt of their own.
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A previous poster way back in the mists of this bulleting board - confirmed that the Bond covered Reynard trading as SE - and that the insurers were fed up of answering the question.
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Stephen101, it will be interesting if all the schools that cancelled paid their money to 'Reynard trading as SE', crucial in fact
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Bodeswiller has a genuine point about the authorities not being keen to pursue all fraud/fraudulent trading cases. That is why it is important that everyone contacts Trading Standards/the police/their MP and councillors with their concerns to provide the necessary encouragement.
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rayscoops, maybe - the insurer also said to me that they provided cover in the event of the liquidation of SE Limited - but that was at a very early stage.

If he was actually trading as SE Limited - that would then beg the question why AiTO didn't check that the bond was for the right entity - as they are meant to check that members are complying with the law in respect of bonding. In addition, there might also be questions as to why the Bank was allowing a bank account to be used for a company that was dormant and not filing accounts - money laundering regs and all that. But this is all just pure speculation.
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Stephen101 wrote:
Bodeswiller has a genuine point about the authorities not being keen to pursue all fraud/fraudulent trading cases. That is why it is important that everyone contacts Trading Standards/the police/their MP and councillors with their concerns to provide the necessary encouragement.


and equally dont we need to be writing Chris Reynard and Skiing Europe in full for the Google search?
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Wow this goes round and round. What were Schools supposed to do when they heard about SE problems and got insufficient assurances? They have a duty to their 'clients' - the parents and children. Cancelling because bookings had not been made as promised/committed seems pretty good grounds to me, but it continually gets twisted with 'what if' arguments. All SE had to do was demonstrate the bookings were confirmed - they failed, they defaulted. And week by week more trips and schools are put in the same position which is why its so frustrating that someone (the law?) cannot act quicker to stop the slow motion crash.

btw - I previously pasted an email from SE to Mount Grace. The fact I got it means it was at some point in the public domain, so its a shame a moderator removed it I assume some legal concern?). It wasn't marked private and signed as CR, SE (not SE Ltd [I am abbreviating here]). The school appear to have checked in March that the AiTo bond had been removed, and that itself should be grounds to cease trading until alternate bond arrangements are in place? Offering an alternative ski trip without a bond in place doesn't seem right.
(I realise Mount Grace didn't actually cancel for fear of forfeiting monies, but other schools did, believing they had good grounds to do so, and frankly no option)

Anyway, as a side issue on the issue of whether emails are private or not, see a good debate here: http://lawmeme.research.yale.edu/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=938

I have a smidgin of sympathy for a company that is dragged under by events like these, but its only a smidgin as it seems SE only have themselves to blame and were busy making arrangement to cover their own assets and liabilities without taking care of paid-for client business. This is never a case where SE could claim media/public damaged the business - their failures caused that reporting and this debate.
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snowjoe, it is indeed going round and round.

I'm still reading but not posting much on this thread as most of it seems to be regurgetated nonsense by those more interested in winning their own little argument.

I have tremendous sympathy for the schools, parents and children who have been conned by Chris Reynard and Skiing Europe. I hope he is hauled over the coals, if not then the law really is an ass.

If I had been affected personally I would also be ensuring my MP got very active on this.

Also, thanks to Admin and the mods for keeping this here.
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achilles wrote:
Bode Swiller has been round the streets...
Can't wear high heels any more though, they kill me.
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See the link for the type of prosecutions undertaken by Devon Trading Standards within the past 6 months - given the amounts involved and the numbers affected I would have thought it would be difficult for them to rule out not having a serious look at SE and Reynard.

http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/economyenterprise/tradingstandards/tsnews/tscases.htm
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Shimmy Alcott wrote:
If I had been affected personally I would also be ensuring my MP got very active on this.
The wisest words in 24 pages.
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A good find. Trading Standards seem good at chasing down the 'little people' (low hanging fruit) but it seems CR is a little longer in the tooth (experienced). A case of white collar crime treatment being different maybe.
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Stephen101 wrote:
See the link for the type of prosecutions undertaken by Devon Trading Standards within the past 6 months - given the amounts involved and the numbers affected I would have thought it would be difficult for them to rule out not having a serious look at SE and Reynard.

http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/economyenterprise/tradingstandards/tsnews/tscases.htm


when I contacted my local Consumer Protection folks they got back to me to say that Devon Trading Standards were investigating Chris Reynards and Skiing Europe. I just hope that the many people affected by him are contacting them to give their version of events.
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Bode Swiller,
Unfortunately for a lot of people i think you are correct, the only hope is that the bonds or insurances in place will provide support but as i have said in a previous post the loss adjusters or claims investigators will explore every caveat to avoid paying out, that is what they are employed to do, again very unfortunate but they do not have any morals when it comes to writing insurance cheques.

Reading "S101" points i think the crux of this may fall on the interpretation of who cancelled!
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BergenBergen wrote:
Shimmy Alcott wrote:
If I had been affected personally I would also be ensuring my MP got very active on this.
The wisest words in 24 pages.


Suggest a on line petition requesting the Education Minister to kick start an investigation, it could provide a two fold result,

1 Would highlight the fiasco at the highest level.

2 If there is any hint of fraud it will get investigated PDQ.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/
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leedsunited, perhaps, I can see what is meant i.e the schools cancelled their trips and thus broke contract, however Mr Reynard seems to have failed to actually book accommodation and transportation that had been paid for and is only offering the statement that alternative accommodation had been booked without actually saying what or where that was, by doing so it could well be judged that either he had broken the contract first, or that he had failed to tell the schools this which would have entitled them to a full refund anyway.
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D G Orf wrote:
leedsunited, perhaps, I can see what is meant i.e the schools cancelled their trips and thus broke contract, however Mr Reynard seems to have failed to actually book accommodation and transportation that had been paid for and is only offering the statement that alternative accommodation had been booked without actually saying what or where that was, by doing so it could well be judged that either he had broken the contract first, or that he had failed to tell the schools this which would have entitled them to a full refund anyway.


Agree and unfortunately that is the grey area.
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Re cancellation/altering terms - whether the contract was or was not broken is secondary to whether the Package Holiday regulations were complied with, and should also bear in mind that contracts would also fall within the scope of the Unfair Contract Terms Act. I have yet to hear of any lawyers saying that they are having legal problems in amaking their claims - and given then large number of lawyers involved I suspect something would have leaked by now if there were any such problems. As for the bond - remember that it is a legal requirement to have the bond in place, AiTO are meant to check that it is in place, AiTO have confirmed that it is in place and should cover losses in the event of bankruptcy/liquidation. I am more optimistic than others - but that isn't the same as complacent, as someone said the lawyers do have to prepare their case properly.
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Stephen101, For once i totally agree with what you are saying, if AiTO are stating that a bond is in place that is great, the major hurdle i feel is getting it to pay out and for that as you quite rightly say, the lawyers must prepare their case and ensure that all th i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. If they are acting independely to each other it could be a long drawn out process, is there not a case for a "class action"

Whilst all this is going on i do not think we should be so naive as to expect that the opposition will not be looking for every hole to sink the ship that is coming their way?
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Shimmy Alcott wrote:
I'm still reading but not posting much on this thread as most of it seems to be regurgetated nonsense by those more interested in winning their own little argument.


I disagree that it is nonsense and there is no argument here to win or lose, it is simply differing views as to strength of the school's respective cases against SE or SE Ltd or who ever and flagging up potential pitfalls and strengths is a positive way for perhaps those parents concerned to consider their position. It has been a bit tetchy (about the jollies) but everyone agrees the basics that SE should be coughing up irrespective of the legal position. No right or wrong here until the fat lady judge sings !
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Quote:

is there not a case for a "class action"


It would be nice - but the different circumstances attached to each debt might make that difficult! I have heard that the schools affected at half term (and presumably the lawyers) were talking to each other.
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Quote:

I have heard that the schools affected at half term (and presumably the lawyers) were talking to each other.

Lets hope so, all everybody wants is to sort this sorry mess, get everybody's money back and hang CR.
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Quote:

Lets hope so, all everybody wants is to sort this sorry mess, get everybody's money back and hang CR.



Treehuggers don't believe in hanging - but perhaps the old Hill House abseiling instructor could be persuaded to take Reynard for a short course.
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Quote:

but perhaps the old Hill House abseiling instructor could be persuaded to take Reynard for a short course.

I will even pay the fee for the course wink
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Bode Swiller wrote:
achilles wrote:
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Can't wear high heels any more though, they kill me.


Pity. They were so you.
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