Bookkeeping Gaffe Dismantles 124-Year-Old Company – Smarter Finance Journal

Bookkeeping Gaffe Dismantles 124-Year-Old Company

accountingerrosImagine yourself taking a nice vacation in the Maldives, away from the family-owned business that you hold in such high regard, only to have that paradise stripped away from you on account of some other company’s financial registry typo — all while you lay there on the beach.

This is exactly what happened to Philip Davison-Sebry, co-owner and managing director of Taylor & Sons Ltd, a UK engineering firm that’s been around for over a century. Apparently, back in 2009, a similar-in-name-only Taylor & Son Ltd (no extra “s”) was on its way to liquidation, and reported the fact that it was going under to a UK government company register. All was good to go, except for the clerk that noted it was, instead, Taylor & Sons Ltd. The error of adding just that extra little “s” would cause irreparable damage. And I’m not talking about internet trolls waving ‘incorrect spelling’ flags.

What happened next was described by Davison-Sebry as “armageddon,” because once the pen hit the pad (or keystrokes hit the screen), creditors and suppliers caught wind of the false information, and started terminating orders as fast as they could. In a horrifying and embarrassing twist of fate, within just a few months, Taylor & Sons Ltd had gone under itself.

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The one bright note, and the reason why this is news just today, is that Britain’s high court recently ruled in favor of Davison-Sebry when he sued the government for millions for their horrendous bookkeeping error, granting the company £8.8 million in damages. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a mess like this to serve as a cautionary tale for the importance for all businesses to make sure to cross all the “T’s” and dot the lower case “J’s.”

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