Pig farmer sues BOCM and Midland

FORMER pig farmer John Nicholson is suing former Unilever company BOCM and Midland Bank for “several million pounds” for unnecessarily putting his business into receivership in February 1988 and – making matters worse during that receivership.

“I am alleging that the bank did not come in to protect themselves but to look after BOCM – part of Unilever at the time. My farm and assets committed to the bank were worth about three times what they were owed.

“I reckon my pigs were eating about 10% of feed sales from the Selby mill. I believe they wanted control of my pigs to keep that outlet for feed.” The pre-trial hearing is tomorrow (Friday).

Mr Nicholson claims that the receivers manipulated his business to manoeuvre him into a voluntary arrangement whereby he passed a pig farm with development potential to BOCM.

By then (autumn 1988), receivers costs and ongoing losses under their management totalled nearly £500,000, he claims.

An earlier request to sell one of two pig herds to enable him to pay BOCM and the bank was refused, he adds.

Mr Nicholson is optimistic about the forthcoming hearing, not least because of the recent Appeal Court ruling (Medforth v Blake 1999) which confirmed that receivers owe a duty of care to run a business with due diligence and, if possible, profitably.

The farmer claimed receivers had been negligent managers partly because they did not seek quantity discounts on feed bills. The decision on that point has yet to be announced.

BOCM Pauls and Midland Bank both declined to comment on the case.

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