Hampstead Pianos Ltd - Save me from RVA Surveyors

by Tom Walter

Hampstead Pianos Ltd - Save me from RVA Surveyors

by Tom Walter
Tom Walter
Case Owner
I am Tom Walter and I want to save my small Piano business from RVA Surveyors
4
days to go
£2,280
pledged of £5,000 stretch target from 72 pledges
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Tom Walter
Case Owner
I am Tom Walter and I want to save my small Piano business from RVA Surveyors
Pledge now

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Latest: June 20, 2022

Final Victory - Many thanks to my Crowd Funders!

To: My Crowd funders

I am overwhelmingly ecstatic to be able to tell you that the nightmare is now over! RVA failed to lodge proper appeal documents and so Manchester County Court has struck out their…

Read more

My name is Tom Walter and I own Hampstead Pianos Ltd with my wife, a small business catering to the musically minded in and around Hampstead and Kilburn for over forty years. 

RVA Surveyors, a company from Manchester often in the press exposing them (you can read about them on the hyperlinks below) got me to sign a contract with them to reduce my business rates. I didn't know that this can be done with a very simple letter to the council that would have cost 50p in postage.

MP Kevin Hollinrake referred to them in Parliament on 26 May 2021 please see the link to Hansard and what he had to say about them below:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-05-26/debates/E1D3F772-2C02-4D30-B4B9-4A8E40C012A8/BusinessRatesReductionServices

I have already paid them tens of thousands of pounds and they still want more.  They have threatened me with a Letter Before Action for a further £3k. They will want more next year.  

In these hard times when every small business is suffering from the effects of COVID-19, if they are successful in their claim I could lose everything I have worked so hard to achieve.

I am fighting for my financial life and for my future. I want to stand up to RVA and show them that they cannot claim tens of thousands of pounds from hard working people. 

If they claim against me I will need to instruct a legal team. There will be disclosure of documents, witness statements and a trial in Court. As you are likely to know, paying for a legal team even in normal times is very expensive. At the moment my business is suffering and I won't be able to pay my lawyers without your help. 

My lawyer, Elliot Hammer of Branch Austin in Mayfair has previously won against them on numerous occasions https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lili-baston-2-rva-surveyors-18977616

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/rva-surveyors-court-yet-again-24547349

Thank you for taking the time to listen and I welcome all the help you can give me. 

Here are numerous links to online reports about RVA.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/businesses-rates-reduction-firm-rva-21950411

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/major-victory-war-against-business-21793204

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/rva-surveyors-accused-forging-signatures-21441069

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lili-baston-2-rva-surveyors-18977616

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/small-firms-hit-out-over-rva-surveyors-fees-for-free-rates-relief-xmx9ffq85

https://www.magzter.com/article/Newspaper/Daily-Mirror/Sponging-Off-The-Covid-Rates-Relief

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Update 8

Tom Walter

June 20, 2022

Final Victory - Many thanks to my Crowd Funders!

To: My Crowd funders

I am overwhelmingly ecstatic to be able to tell you that the nightmare is now over! RVA failed to lodge proper appeal documents and so Manchester County Court has struck out their appeal as of 27 May 2022. We only recently had official confirmation.

I can hardly believe how an experienced legal team could make such technical howlers; an invisible hand must have been at play!

I could not have done this without all of you, your help and encouragement gave me the confidence as well as the financial wherewithal to succeed.

You have my everlasting gratitude, and I am hoping this saga may give hope to others in the same plight.

Tom Walter

20.06.2022


Update 7

Tom Walter

May 26, 2022

The nightmare continues - RVA are appealing!

To: My Crowd Funders

The  nightmare continues! RVA have decided to apply for permission to appeal the judgment, as they indicated they would to the Ham and High and the Daily Mirror. 

So it is with a heavy heart that I write this, knowing that Hampstead Pianos Ltd faces further litigation and uncertainty going into the future. 

My legal team advises me that Hampstead Pianos Ltd has good prospects of success and so we should resolutely defend this application by RVA and seek costs against them. 

I am loathe to ask you to help Hampstead Pianos Ltd again, but we really do need your help and anything you can contribute would be gratefully appreciated. I know that times are incredibly tough right now and so please if you are thinking of  giving, only what you can afford.

I will keep you up to date.

Best

Tom Walter




Update 6

Tom Walter

April 6, 2022

Victory! We won the Court Case on the 4th April!

After a lengthy hearing - and a gruelling cross examination I had to endure, the Judge ruled in our favour!

For me, having never appeared in a court before (except Jury service), the whole journey has been edifying and somewhat daunting, and certainly an emotional roller coaster!

At times over the months, I wanted to jack the whole thing in, when I realised how much of my own time and effort was required, and indeed costs that I have had to bear, with the thought of how much more it would cost me if we lost.

But I just could not let them  get away with it without trying to make a stand, for the sake of many others as well.


It took nearly four hours to conclude, as it ran overtime and the Judge had to go to another case and come back while we waited. Towards the end of the judge’s summing up and adjudication , (which she did so eruditely), I started to realise we were going to win – against all my expectations! The Judge even refused them leave to appeal, but as we would expect from these people they are already applying for permission to appeal.

So the journey is NOT OVER, and we brace ourselves for their appeal - if and when it comes.

We will need to raise a fair bit more funds somehow for this.


My everlasting gratitude to those who have supported me throughout, friends and strangers alike, and especially to Elliot our Solicitor who did a brilliant job putting the brief together and arguing in Court, forensically defeating the other side blow by blow.

Tom.


Update 5

Tom Walter

March 25, 2022

Court Case 4th April 10 a.m. In Manchester!

So this is it! My, how time flies, apologies for the silence as the months have flown by. I was taken aback by the torrents of paperwork that I had to assemble – fill in – gather – and even compose long careful statements. As well as trying to understand the Counsel’s opinion on the matter – superbly written and thorough, – but very complex.

Elliot our Solicitor has done a great job, but I never expected so much time was needed for all of this by both of us.

On top of which – I have to appear in court myself, take the stand and be cross examined! (Wasn’t expecting that – and more expense!) I will just have to do my best. – ( L.A. Law eat your heart out! )

Joke of the day, RVA’s recent letter to me asking for more money, ‘proudly’ state “With over £125m of savings to date …”  I therefore wonder how much money this equates to, that they have ripped off from thousands of small unsuspecting businesses?!

There are far more urgent and terrible events going on in this world – as we all know.

Nevertheless, if anyone knows anyone with a few pounds left to donate (who has these days?!) – We are much underfunded for taking on this Just cause. But please don’t break the piggy bank – only if you can!

With my sincere thanks and gratitude.

Will let you know the outcome,

Happiness for all,

Tom.

Update 4

Tom Walter

Dec. 24, 2021

Defence has been filed!

Defence has been filed!

We have received Counsel’s opinion, - and have filed our defence with the Courts!

Phew! I didn’t realise how much paper work, research and time this all takes, but we just have to try, for the sakes of all the small businesses taken for a ride by this RVA Company.

Last week the Ham & High local paper had an article on us – you can see it here:

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/business/piano-shop-says-business-rates-claim-threatens-business-8549010

We won’t know for a while when the case will be scheduled, and I would again express my great gratitude to all of you who have supported this cause.

Once again, if you can find it in you (it’s not an easy thing to do) to try and persuade friends / spread the word on your media – we need to raise a fair old amount to pay costs / court fees etc.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy festive season. Never give up, find happiness no matter what life throws at you, it is a state of mind – and comes from within - and help others to do the same.

Tom.

Update 3

Tom Walter

Oct. 28, 2021

We are a little stuck!

6 days to go – and we need to reach our stretched target so we can fight these exploiters. Just heard the sad news of another small business dragged through the courts, highlighted by the Daily Mirror’s Andrew Penman. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/judge-slams-notorious-business-rates-25320754

Only a few cases come to public attention through the courts; but there are many more small enterprises out there that need rescuing from RVA’s evil clutches.

Once again, thank you all so much for your help; please have a think if there are some more friends and social media you may be able to ‘jog’ into helping out. Perhaps emailing some close friends, a link on Facebook or tweet asking to pledge.

Still awaiting the Barristers opinion, and to hear when the case will come to court.

With respect and gratitude,

Tom Walter.

Update 2

Tom Walter

Oct. 21, 2021

Thank you so much!

We now have the funds to engage the Barrister to examine and give Council opinion on our case.

We have left ‘base camp’ – and started towards the summit!

I am so very grateful for the support of friends, friends of friends, those who know us from the piano shop, and also complete strangers! You have all been so generous, and not just the pledges, but it’s the time and efforts you have taken to get the word out to your own connections.

My faith in the kindness of ordinary people is sky high!  I hope we can all get a bit more kindness in today’s world.

Today I was called by a journalist who came across our case quiet by chance. In her words, she was 'so appalled by the circumstances’ – she has set up an interview with me.

I am now awaiting Council’s opinion, and hoping we can put a viable case together.

Time is very tight, - but we will get there with everyone’s efforts and goodwill.

Will keep everyone posted. Tom.

Update 1

Tom Walter

Oct. 13, 2021

Court case imminent !

Hello to all you kind people, thank you so very much for your support.

As an update, RVA have now filed a court case against us – so we only have a few weeks to prepare our defence!

Even though the government gave small businesses a rates free period because of Covid and lock down, RVA still want their pound of flesh - demanding payment!

We need now to fund the Barrister to take on our case as it approaches.

Your support has been invaluable, if you can spread the word to friends, and social media – we have to hit our target soon to help fund the costs.

By the way, if you were not aware, we do not receive any of the pledges ourselves, 100% goes directly to the solicitors client account to pay for all the costs in fighting these “people”!

Elliot and his team have been so helpful in helping to set it all up, and they need another success to put RVA to sleep for good !

Not just for us, but thousands of other small businesses who have been, - or could be in the future, - caught in their trap, would benefit also.

Tom.

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