How a Missing 'S' Killed a 134-Year-Old Company

Court rules in Taylor & Sons' favor
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2015 12:34 PM CST

(Newser) – There are bad typos and there are bad typos. This story is a case of the latter. Taylor & Sons is a Welsh engineering firm founded in 1875; on Feb. 20, 2009, Companies House, the UK agency that incorporates and dissolves limited companies, listed it as being "wound up," essentially in liquidation. Except it wasn't: Taylor & Son was the company having issues. Even though the error was rectified on Feb. 23, Taylor & Sons says that the erroneous info had already been sold to credit reference agencies. Customers spotted the notice, didn't catch the missing S, and started abandoning the firm, which at the time boasted 250 employees. Among the customers who fled: Tata Steel, which had been paying the firm about $600,000 a month, per the BBC.

The Telegraph reports that owner Philip Davison-Sebry said that within three weeks' time, all 3,000 of its suppliers had contacted the company about terminating orders or canceling credit. The company went into administration within two months of the typo, the business having been damaged "so as to become of no real value," he says. And so Davison-Sebry sued Companies House. In a ruling Monday, a High Court judge agreed with Davison-Sebry, noting that Companies House was obligated to take reasonable care when recording such "winding ups" to verify that the correct company was being named. And while Companies House argued that the three-day lifespan of the error was too short to cause the Taylor & Sons' failure, the judge disagreed. Davison-Sebry sued for roughly $13.3 million; the BBC reports the preliminary ruling didn't address damages.

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