Ex-chairman of Derry Building Services sues firm his family founded

James Derry, the former chairman of Derry Building Services, has launched a £2.5m legal battle against the firm his family founded.

Derry, 56, is suing the m&e contractor on the grounds that he was denied the three-years’ notice period he argues he was entitled to, according to a report in Building magazine. The firm, part of contractor Bowmer & Kirkland, was owned by his family for 257 years before he sold it in 1991.

According to a High Court writ, Derry worked for the Nottinghamshire-based business on a series of three-year contracts, first as sales and marketing director and later as managing director and chairman.

His lawyers claim that, under employment regulations, he became a permanent member of staff after four years’ continuous service, and should have remained employed until he was at a “normal retirement age”.

By 2008 he was entitled to a salary of £108,945 with benefits worth £231,000, the writ says. It adds that he was also entitled to a bonus of 5% of the firm’s net profit and a special bonus, which would together have been worth more than £500,000.

Derry says the firm wrongfully dismissed him on 24 January this year, before his 60th birthday, without giving him three years’ notice He says this caused him losses of more than £2m.

The firm, which was founded in 1734 and has been run by 10 generations of the Derry family, has a turnover of £40m.

In 2007 Derry is well known in the east Midlands and headed a consortium that in 2007 bought Mansfield Town football club.

Qumer Ghafoor, a solicitor representing Derry Building Services, said: “A defence has been filed. My client will be defending the matter vigorously.”

Derry declined to comment.