Nevern Dairies owner Andrew Thriepland ran a multi-million pound farming business in Pembrokeshire. As the price of cheese fluctuated in the international market, Thriepland became concerned about the value of his stock and sought advice from his bank. The bank appointed a Big-Five firm to report on the business affairs. As Thriepland recalled, a young man aged about 24, totally inexperienced in farming, came to his premises to prepare a report. After discussions lasting the best part of a day, he decided that cheese originally valued at £800,000 was only worth half that figure.
The one day visit and report by the accountancy firm resulted in a fee
of £3,000. But the revised stock valuation made the business look
decidedly unsound and the same Big-Five firm were appointed receivers.
But the receivers had difficulties. Thriepland knew the farming business
and the insolvency practitioner did not. The receiver could hardly milk
200 cows and keep the animals in good health for ultimate sale. Through
threats of non-co-operation and the nature of his business, Thriepland
gained upper hand in the dispute. He also obtained alternative valuations
for his stock which were far nearer the original figure. Based upon the
revised stock valuation, the bank granted an overdraft facility of one
million pounds. Though the cheese business was sold, Thriepland was able
to rescue the rest. He sued the Big-Six firm for negligence, but was unsuccessful
because the receivers only owe a ‘duty of care’ to the party appointing
him/her, in this case the bank.