Court throws out father's claim on his son's business

A father's bid to win a slice of his phenomenally successful son's multi-million-pound courier firm has failed after a top judge condemned his evidence as "to a very large extent, fictitious".

Roger Marsh, in his 60s, had told the High Court he helped his dyslexic son, Simon, 34, set up SMS Worldwide Express Ltd in the mid-1990s from the living room of their council home in Mountfield, ensuring that he overcame his learning difficulties and transformed himself into a multi-millionaire.

During an enormously costly hearing, he claimed he had been his son's business partner and sought a stake of at least 30 per cent in Time Critical International Ltd, which Simon Marsh set up in 2003 and which three years later was turning over around 5m a year.

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However, the judge, Sir Edward Evans-Lombe, dismissed the father's case, saying: "In my judgment, Roger's evidence is, to a very large extent, fictitious".

He added: "There is a great deal of difference between a father helping his son to set up in business and a father setting up in business in partnership with his son".

Apart from his son's willingness to allow him access to SMS's bank accounts and credit cards, the judge said Roger Marsh's only income in the early days of SMS had been state welfare.

He added: "There was every incentive for Roger to help the SMS business outside any partnership. It was his only source of purchasing power apart from Welfare.

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"There was no evidence that Simon ever accepted his father as a partner having the power to bind him in business transactions.

"Roger has failed to establish that there was, at any material time, a partnership between himself and Simon in the courier business known as SMS in its various guises.

"I do not find that there was an agreement between Roger and Simon that Roger would be allotted a shareholding in a limited company to be formed to take over the SMS business."

The court heard during the week-long case that, in 1996, SMS was set up from Old World Cottage, Mountfield, a council house that father and son lived in after their former family home was repossessed.

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In 2003, Simon wound down SMS, transferring its business to Time Critical International Ltd, which now trades out of the Lympne Industrial Estate, in Hythe, Kent.

Sir Edward said: "I have come to the clear conclusion that the evidence of Simon and of his witnesses is to be preferred to the evidence of Roger and his witnesses wherever they are in conflict".

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