A group of former employees of Austin-Smith:Lord’s (ASL) has launched a legal bid to side-step the practice’s company voluntary agreement (CVA) and get paid first
It is understood ex-staff from the practice’s now-closed Abu Dhabi office have succeeded in getting an injunction against ASL’s main debtor, the government-backed client Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH).
The emergency court action, based on local Emirate employment law, could potentially stop the organisation from paying out any monies to the recently agreed CVA until the staff’s claims for around £500,000 in unpaid salaries are resolved.
All former employees, including the ex-Abu Dhabi workforce are already treated as preferential creditors of the CVA.
ASL partner Neil Chapman downplayed the move but admitted it ‘could impact the redistribution of the funds’ paid into the CVA.
The company was forced to lay off more than 80 staff and seek a CVA last month after racking up huge debts, including £11.3 million in unpaid fees from ADACH for design work on a long-running cultural quarter scheme.
Former employees are owed more than £800,000 by the one-time top ten ranked AJ100 practice.
Under the CVA those still to be paid by the practice can expect to receive 85p in every pound.
It is understood ASL has now received almost half of the monies owed by ADACH.