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The General Trading V. Richmond Corporation Notes

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THE GENERAL TRADING V. RICHMOND CORPORATION FACTS This case arises out of the sale of the business of the well-known retailer, The General Trading Company. The claimant, the General Trading Company (Holdings) Limited, ("GTC Holdings"), was incorporated in December 2005 during the course of negotiations for the purchase of the General Trading Company (Mayfair) Limited ("GTC Mayfair"), which owned the retail business. GTC Mayfair was a wholly owned subsidiary of the defendant, Richmond Corporation Limited ("Richmond"). On 4 May 2006 the claimant acquired 95% of GTC Mayfair's share capital from Richmond. The purchase price was PS60,000 in cash and the provision by GTC Holdings to Richmond of loan notes to a value of PS540,000. The agreement also contained an undertaking by Richmond to procure a loan guarantee to enable GTC Mayfair to obtain a loan or loan facility of
PS200,000 from a major high street bank for two years. By the date of the hearing the dispute was confined to this undertaking. Shortly before the hearing disputes as to the amount of the shortfall in GTC Mayfair's net asset value as against the figure warranted in the sale agreement and concerning the costs of decoupling GTC Mayfair's IT system from Richmond's were settled. GTC Holdings claims that Richmond failed to procure the provision of the guarantee within the 30 day period following notice specified in the sale and purchase agreement, and that GTC Holdings is consequently no longer obliged to make payments under the loan notes. Richmond's defence is that it has not failed to comply with the terms of the sale agreement as to the provision of the loan guarantee, but that, if it has, such failure was the result of breaches of the agreement by GTC Holdings and GTC Mayfair. It also argues that clause 17.15, which specifies that if Richmond fails to procure the provision of the guarantee as required under the contract the loan notes shall be cancelled, is a contractual penalty and therefore unenforceable. The relevant clause:

17.10 The Seller undertakes to the Buyer, as trustee for the Company to procure, when required by the Company pursuant to clause 17.11, the provision of such security and/or guarantees in accordance with the outline provided in the email from David Barnett to Jeffery Gould dated 4th May 2006 and timed at 12.20pm (a copy of which is annexed at schedule 8) (namely the Loan Guarantees) to enable the Company to obtain from a major high street bank of the Company's choosing a loan or loan facility (without any

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