Creditors vote to continue efforts to reclaim £5m in debts after collapse of fit-out contractor.
Legal action could be taken against former directors of Churchfield to retrieve £5m in debts owed to trade creditors of the collapsed fit-out firm.

Creditors voted for action to continue at last week's creditors' meeting.

Directors could face actions for either wrongful trading or for breach of fiduciary duty.

Nick O'Reilly, of joint administrator Rothman Pantall, said the administrators would be looking for sufficient evidence for action.

The investigation was also looking at the current financial state of the directors, O'Reilly added.

Churchfield, which had a turnover of £38m, slipped into administration in February. The firm owed a total of £7m, according to the administrators' report.

The report also reveals that Churchfield suffered a dramatic worsening of its financial situation between 1998 and 1999, suffering an operating loss the year after recording a profit of £1.6m in 1998.

O'Reilly told creditors that a lot of groundwork had been carried out and he felt that at present the administrators were in control of the situation and would decide what action to take on the evidence available.

O'Reilly said he was also working on collecting other debts due to Churchfield, which would be passed on to creditors.

He added that the picture regarding the investigations into Churchfield's collapse and the amount of money that could be retrieved would be clearer within about three months.

He said: "We cannot be exact until we have done all the groundwork. The creditors naturally all want their money back, but they also want to know what happened to it." Creditors voted for the firm to be kept in administration. Joint administrators Rothman Pantall and Deloitte & Touche argued that doing this would give creditors the best chance of receiving money owed.

Large debts include a £4m claim over fit-out work completed by Churchfield in Butlers Wharf, near Tower Bridge in central London.

O'Reilly said the administrators' investigation would also look into the withdrawal of £1.8m from Churchfield subsidiary Churchfield Associates West last October.

This led to three directors at Churchfield Associates West leaving and setting up a new operation called Bluu Interiors.

A committee of five large creditors was also appointed to oversee the administration and any future investigations at the meeting.

The committee included the largest creditors Mitie Engineering Services London, Baris UK, BHD and Trade Indemnity, an insurance firm representing smaller creditors.