Barristers from No5 Chambers in Birmingham have helped a charity from the city successfully mount a claim for compensation and damages from a clergyman who was its former chair.

The late 1990s saw the Birmingham Community Foundation (BCF) engage in a project to restore the derelict Grade II listed Nechells Baths in Nechells, Birmingham with the objective of turning them into a community centre. The BCF created a charity, Midlands Regen Ltd, to receive public grants for the purposes of the Project and to pay those out to contractors working on it. Midlands Regen Ltd was chaired by the Reverend Canon David Collyer, who was considered to be an expert in fundraising in relation to regeneration projects.

During the course of Canon Collyer’s tenure as chair and director of Midlands Regen Ltd, illegitimate payments totalling approximately £1. 2 million were authorised by him. Midlands Regen Ltd decided to pursue Canon Collyer for repayment and Michelle Davies of Gateley instructed Richard Jones QC and Glenn Willetts, both of No5 Chambers, to represent Midlands Regen Ltd in Birmingham’s High Court Chancery Division. 

Canon Collyer, for his part, arguing that he could not have acted without the knowledge and approval of two directors of Midlands Regen Ltd, Tim Watts and David Bucknall, said that they should be involved in the proceedings and he issued a claim against them. Olivia Chaffin-Laird, also of No5 Chambers, was instructed to represent Mr Watts and Mr Bucknall. 

The civil case opened on 3rd September before His Honour Judge Purle QC. Cross examination of Canon David Collyer by the three No5 Chambers’ barristers readily revealed contradictions and inconsistencies in his statements and replies, wholly undermining his credibility. 

Canon Collyer agreed to judgment being made against him in the sum of £800,000 and to pay Midland Regen Ltd’s legal costs together with those of David Bucknall and Tim Watts. This Order was made by His Honour Judge Purle QC on Thursday 4 October 2012. The third party proceedings against Tim Watts and David Bucknall were dismissed together with a counterclaim for alleged fees due that Canon Collyer made against Midlands Regen Ltd. 

Michelle Davies of law firm Gateley said: “After having been involved in this claim on behalf of Midlands Regen Ltd for more than three years I am pleased to have been part of the team responsible for delivering such a positive result for the charity and the local community”.

Richard Jones was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1996. His chancery, regulatory, partnership and arbitration practices have called for him to deploy his expertise in a raft of high profile cases. Glenn Willetts was called to the Bar in 2000 and his Company and Partnership practice at No5 has seen him apply his expertise in cases where the conduct of trustees and directors has been called into question. Olivia Chaffin Laird called to the Bar in 2001, is respected for her strong chancery, partnership, regulatory and insolvency practices. Her ability to tackle financial and complex issues is noteable. Anyone wishing to know more about these barristers or No5 Chambers should visit or telephone 0845 210 5555.