Your client ‘is no more resident and domiciled in Malta than you or I’ debt firm tells lawyer for Fens businessman

High Court judgement against Richard Sears

High Court judgement against Richard Sears - Credit: Archant

Lawyers for Fenland businessman Richard Sears dismissed a High Court judgment for £44,000 claiming he “does not have any assets or beneficial interests here in the UK”.

They said his home is in Malta and is immune from proceedings in this country- a claim rejected by the firm chasing the debt.

“Mr Sears is no more resident and domiciled in Malta than you or I,” retorted the Jersey based lawyer Philip Sinel trying to recover the cash.

Mr Sears was filmed being served with the judgment in person on a recent visit to Whittlesey but his lawyers say he lives in Malta and out of the UK legal jurisdiction.

The order was served by the debt recovery arm of a Jersey based law firm, Sinels, who first won judgment against Mr Sears in the Royal Court of Guernsey two years ago.

Sinels specialises in ‘buying’ debt and began recovering the money – which they say is owed on a Bentley- in July 2012.

The judgment in the Channel Islands court cites Mr Sears as first defendant and Kronos Holdings Ltd as second defendant.

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The court gave judgment to Sinels under their debt factoring trading name of Boorola (Jersey) Ltd for £44,418.03 plus costs of some £5,000.

Mr Sears, whose trading companies Harrier Developments and Cambridge Properties are registered in the Isle of Man, has been behind numerous supermarket applications in the Fens and East Cambridgeshire.

His company successfully delivered the mothballed Tesco store in Chatteris and he won consent for a Tesco store in Station Road, Whittlesey, before switching to a site in Eastrea Road. He fought, but lost, a lengthy legal battle with developers acting for Sainsbury’s.

Mr Sears has also won consent for an out of town store in Soham and he also launched a rival leisure and store complex to that proposed by East Cambs District Council in Ely.

His lawyers RPM legal of Huntingdon, told the Jersey debt recovery specialists that “we are aware that you have applied in the High Court for registration of the judgment obtained in the court in Guernsey and that Mr Sears does have the right to apply for that to be set aside.

“Our client is not intending to apply for the registration in the UK to be set aside on the basis that our client is in fact resident and domiciled in Malta and it is that jurisdiction that is his centre of main interest”.

The lawyers added: “We are instructed by Mr Sears that he does not have any assets or any beneficial interest in any assets here in the UK. You are likely to be aware that there is a property in Manea that is registered at the Land Registry in our client’s name. That property is however subject to a trust deed which dates back over 10 years and our client has no beneficial interest in that property whatsoever.

“Any application to enforce the judgment registered in the UK against that property will be opposed on this basis.”

RPM Legal added: “If at some stage you are instructed to commence any enforcement proceedings against Mr Sears in England, we are instructed to accept service of any such proceedings on his behalf.”

Mr Sinel, a senior partner in the Jersey debt factoring firm, told RPM: “We note that rather than settling his obligations, Mr Sears has instructed you to assist in evading them.

“Your client is not intending to apply for registration to be set aside because he owes the money. Alleged residence and domicile in Malta are not relevant to that issue.

“Mr Sears is no more resident and domiciled in Malta than you or I. Mr Sears is a well known property developer living in Cambridgeshire who appears to have structured some of his affairs in order to assist in evading his obligations.”

Mr Sinel said he was still waiting to see a copy of the trust deed and has also asked RMP to explain Mr Sears’ “purpose in executing it”.

Mr Sears was unavailable for comment.