Dozens of user companies are facing uncertainty because a consultancy that helps IT disaster victims is going into liquidation.
As expert IT advisers to users in legal actions involving suppliers, Financial Management Consultants (FMC) is one of the biggest companies in the field of computer litigation. It claims to have handled more than 600 cases successfully, several of which are ongoing. Computer Weekly has details of two current cases involving the High Court in which FMC is the main IT adviser to users.
Now Computer Weekly has learned that the company, which has received millions of pounds in fees from IT disaster victims, mostly medium-sized businesses, is to go into liquidation and will shortly send official notices to its creditors.
Accountant Mazars Neville Russell, which is expected to be appointed liquidator, said this week that the co-chairmen of FMC have sold the assets and goodwill of the business to two new companies they will run as separate enterprises. It said that FMC will be liquidated formally "in the very near future".
One of FMC's co-chairmen, David Wilkins, said his new company Pro Business Consulting is operating from FMC's Somerset office. FMC's other chairman, Keith Salmon, now runs Resolution Consultants which operates from FMC's Surrey offices .
"Keith Salmon and I, as partners for many years, have decided that we will do our own thing separately," said Wilkins. "FMC is in liquidation and that closes that situation." He insisted that his casework would continue uninterrupted by the liquidation. Salmon was unavailable for comment.
Essex-based Intumescent Fire Protection is currently involved in a High Court case in which FMC is the company's main IT adviser. Karl Dummage, a director at Intumescent, said this week, "We have a case in progress. We know that FMC has changed its status but we are unaware of anything to do with liquidation."
FMC has a colourful history in the computer industry. Last year it was asked by the Advertising Standards Authority to withdraw a claim that it has never lost a case. And although users sometimes praise the quality of the work of its employees, the company itself has, on occasion, been in dispute with some users over its fees.
Hertfordshire-based Minival, importers of clothing accessories, is currently in dispute with FMC over invoices for fees totalling £78,000. BAC Air Conditioning also said it is disputing the company's fees.
News of FMC's liquidation will only add to the uncertainties faced by users who are involved in litigation over systems failures.
But Wilkins said his customers were happy to transfer their business to his new company.
He added that his new company will in future not necessarily focus on wrongs committed by suppliers. "There is a change. FMC had a certain policy. Pro Business wants to be out there to correct wrongs - if that includes being retained by a supplier against clients who have not properly specified, so be it."