PO Box 74
Telephone: +44 (0)191 385 9977
Fax: +44 (0)191 385 9944
Byline Group today issued proceedings in the High Court against London Underground Limited for payment of sums owed to it under contracts signed with London Regional Transport ("LRT") in July 1998.
The contracts involved the supply and installation of a computer system for London Transport Property (a subsidiary company of London Regional Transport) to assist with management of LRT’s property portfolio. The system was based upon Byline’s Adminestate software package. After making many changes to the original contracted specification, LRT suddenly halted implementation of the system in November 1999 and refused to pay for work that had already been performed.
This action coincided with the announcement that all the property services provided by London Transport Property were to be out-sourced as part of the "formation of Transport for London and the Public Private Partnership for the Underground".
The amount claimed by Byline in its pleadings to the Court is just over £630,000 including contractual interest to date.
Byline - a company built up in the North East over ten years by directors George Perfect and John Welsh - has suffered enormously as a result of LRT’s actions. In February of this year, the company was forced to make the majority of its staff redundant and has been reduced to providing only a maintenance role for its other customers, who have shown great sympathy and support for the company.
Byline’s directors made strenuous attempts to avoid the necessity for legal action. However, all attempts to discuss the matter with LRT proved fruitless and offers to resolve the matter through independent mediation or arbitration were spurned.
Attempts to make progress through political channels proved equally fruitless with appeals to John Prescott (who as Minister for London and Minister for Transport is directly responsible for London Transport) going unanswered for several months then brushed aside even after the intervention of Byline’s local constituency MP John McWilliam.
Despite many requests, LRT has failed to provide any substantive reason for its refusal to pay sums which Byline claims are owed to it under contract. In December 1999 LRT unilaterally appointed a third-party consulting firm to report on the system provided by Byline. Despite initially promising to provide a copy of this report to Byline, LRT has subsequently refused to do so.
Byline has successfully installed the same software for organisations with larger property portfolios and more sophisticated accounting needs than LRT and these systems have been in use for several years without complaint. Organisations using the Adminestate software in this way include Morley Properties (the investment arm of CGU insurance), Scudder-Threadneedle (the investment arm of Allied-Zurich), Cooperative Insurance Society and Unilever.
Byline’s managing director, George Perfect, says "Byline is a small company with a record of serving some of the largest companies in the UK. We have always been proud of the quality of the products and services we have provided. We have never shirked responsibility for any mistakes we might make but always act to ensure our customer is entirely satisfied. I do not believe that a small company builds up a customer list as prestigious as ours without consistently doing things right. The systems we have provided are individually responsible for billions of Pounds worth of investments."
"Despite asking many, many times we can still only speculate as to LRT’s reasons for its refusal to pay us. As they have made no relevant complaints and given us no opportunity to remedy any perceived failings in the system I can only conclude that we have, in fact, done no wrong. If I had been asked eighteen months ago, I would have said it was unthinkable that we would find ourselves in a position such as this. I hope that the courts will see fit to force LRT to pay what it owes. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that anything a court can do will repair the far greater damage inflicted on this company by this dispute. It seems that delivering more than we were contractually obliged to do was not enough for LRT. We seem to have fallen victim to a bigger game plan. As a result, fourteen jobs have been lost and ten years of hard work ruined."
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Byline Group - Tel: 0191 385 9977
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