Pursuing the Brewers: Contact Info, Facts and Resources

Phil Groom writes:

An unpaid supplier has asked for contact information for the Brewers with a possible view to pursuing them through the courts: I’ve posted the info I have at the bottom of this post, which is all a matter of public record, but I’d like to run through a few points before we get to that.

Suppliers Discussion Group

At the end of last year we set up a private online Suppliers Discussion Group in the hope of facilitating the possibility of a joint action and/or coordinated response. That group still exists: if you’re a supplier and would like to join the group, please request an invitation. Whether or not it achieves anything is entirely your call, of course, but if you simply sit there on the sidelines moaning that nothing’s happening and no one’s doing anything, what do you expect? Ask not Who’s going to do something? but What can I do?

Today is Good Friday and yes, if you take a stand there’s always the risk that, like Jesus, you’ll end up crucified. That’s part of the deal when you follow Jesus and if you didn’t take that on board when you signed up, that’s either because some evangelist wasn’t telling you the truth or because you didn’t read the small print, even though it’s writ large on every page of the Gospels. Christianity isn’t a shortcut to health-and-wealth: charlatans like the Brewers who use Christianity as a way to pimp their own egos and empires are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Sermon over: if you haven’t got it by now, you probably never will.

Taking a Stand

So what, in practice, has happened when people take a stand against the Brewers? They’ve been paid. Every case we have on record of either an individual or an organisation/company tackling the Brewers head-to-head has resulted in settlement; and when J Mark Brewer attempted to take himself to court in his bogus bankruptcy filing, the only thing he demonstrated was his own incompetence, to the point where the court threw him out as a laughing stock. The only way he was able to get out the hole he’d dug for himself was to hire another attorney to haul him out: the man is, quite frankly, an oaf. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, the facts are friendly. 

Cases Resolved So Far

1. Via this blog:

2. Listed by Brewer himself in the official SSG Statement of Financial Affairs (pdf) filed June 19, 2008, with the US Bankruptcy Court, Texas:

  • TBS, The Book Service: Stratford upon Avon County Court, refs PJS/091710 and  8SV00246, p.7.
  • Nick Johnson, refs 1806366/2007 and 1806489/2007, p.6.
  • Kirsty Smith, ref 7QT61858. Listed as ‘Pending’, p.6, but since resolved.*
  • Melanie Carroll, ref 2600803/2007, p.6.
  • Miss A C Speddings, ref 2801875/2007. Listed as ‘Pending’, p.6, but since resolved.*
  • Mike Pickering, ref 1502210/2007, p.6.

* Information supplied in private correspondence.

Most of these have been out of court settlements. Why? Because, quite simply, the Brewers know they don’t have a leg to stand on. The bankruptcy filing scam and the transfer of company assets to other companies were nothing more than a ruse set up in an attempt to evade SSG’s creditors: any review of the evidence will almost certainly result in them being laughed out of the court.

Certificate of Employers Liability Insurance

Certificate of Employers Liability Insurance

Furthermore, here in the UK, SSG has not gone into administration since the case was thrown out of the USA courts; and despite Philip W Brewer’s protestations that there was “no relationship going forward” between SSG and the Durham Cathedral Shop Management Co., we now have very clear evidence of precisely that continuing relationship in the form of the shop’s Certificate of Employers’ Liability Insurance issued in the name of St Stephen the Great Trust (Policy No. SB06000002/05ACI0125269) for the current period November 2008 – October 2009.

Whether a certificate issued in the name of one company to cover employees of what is ostensibly another company is valid is another matter, of course: I’ve asked Ecclesiastical for clarification. The point here, however, is that the Durham shop and, I’m told, the other shops are displaying this certificate: SSG accepts liability for the Durham shop employees. Any claims that the company has ceased trading and has no liability for other aspects of the shop’s business such as its debts are dubious at best if not complete codswallop. 

Thanks to Melanie Carroll for pointing out that the cost of starting a Small Claim through the Courts is relatively small — as little, in fact, as £25 for a claim up to £300 (Fees Leaflet [pdf]) if submitted via the Money Claim Online service, although this service requires an address in England or Wales where documents may be served. If you back up your claim with appropriate evidence — by visiting a shop and taking a photograph of an item you supplied but haven’t been paid for, for instance — you should be in with a good chance. See HMCS (Her Majesty’s Court Service) Making a Claim for practical guidance on submitting a claim or contact the HMCS Helpdesk.


Brewer Addresses

The Brewers’ addresses are a matter of public record:

1. From the SSG/SPCK Bankruptcy Filing documents:

J Mark & Philip W Brewer - addresses filed with the Texas Bankruptcy Courts

J Mark & Philip W Brewer - from the Texas Bankruptcy Court Documents

2. From Brewer & Pritchard PC, Contact Us page, which also includes a form for submitting messages directly online:

J Mark Brewer
Brewer & Pritchard, PC 
Three Riverway, 18th Floor
Houston, Texas 77056 
Phone: 713-209-2950
Fax: 713-659-5302
Email: brewer@bplaw.com

3. From Pima County Court Records, pdf | html (Links broken? Try a Google Search for P21-06-033)

Phil & Beth Brewer
2610 W Bountiful Lane
Tucson, AZ 85742

4. Phil Brewer’s Business Card, which he left lying around at asingleblog:

Brewer Enterprises

Brewer Enterprises



For the avoidance of doubt: nothing included in this post (or any other post on this site) constitutes legal advice. Any action you may or may not take in response thereto and any consequences thereof are your own responsibility.


26 responses to “Pursuing the Brewers: Contact Info, Facts and Resources

  1. Can insurance owned by one company cover employees in another company? If ENC/Durham/Chichester don’t have valid Employers Liability insurance, then where does that leave them/staff?

    • Good question, and one which the staff need to be asking. From the small print the bottom of the certificate:

      Where the employer is a company to which regulation 3 (2) of the Regulations applies, the certificate shall state in a prominent place, either that the policy covers the holding company and all its subsidiaries, or that the policy covers the holding company and all its subsidiaries except any specifically excluded by name, or that the policy covers the holding company and only the named subsidiaries.

      Since there is no such statement on the certificate, seems to me we can read it two ways: either the certificate is illegal, or it constitutes evidence of what everyone knows anyway, ie that DCSMC/ENC/CSMC etc are all fronts for the Brewers/SSG.

      Revisiting the bankruptcy filing paperwork again, p.4, Mark Brewer admits SSG’s responsibility for paying wages to employees of DCSMC c/o Moorepay, and this is dated June 19, 2008, well after Phil Brewer’s denial of any ongoing relationship between the companies, March 12, 2008.

      It’d be as comical as Laurel & Hardy if there weren’t real people being screwed over by these guys.

  2. Valiant for Truth

    I gather some shop staff have been making enquiries about the Employers Liability Insurance and USDAW are aware. Although they can say nothing, USDAW are putting in a great deal of work re the forthcoming tribunals. I sincerely hope that the Church of England Pensions Board, who have been told about this Blog, will take note and chase more vigorously.

  3. I would like to confirm that USDAW is in receipt of this document. The Union needed it for the Tribunal hearings. Needless to say that they could not get it from the Brewers.

  4. Tricky one this. None of the present employees are covered. Can’t post a telephone conversation. The broker said that only stock and rent payable are covered. I guess the Brewers don’t particularly care about their present staff. It’s why they hired staff through an agency. Sorry if I’m pointing out the obvious.

  5. So if staff, say, didn’t turn up to work on Tuesday and cited the insurance thing, would they be within their rights to do so, and not be liable for dismissal under breach of contract? Would it be worth taking union advice on this?

  6. Union advice is report them to Health and Safety.

  7. The staff are in… let’s call it an interesting … position: employed via an agency (Moorepay), which presumably means that they can be dismissed at the drop of a hat; yet having to perform as the public face of the Cathedral for a Cathedral Chapter that, quite frankly, from what I see of how it’s dealing — or rather, failing to deal — with this situation, doesn’t give a damn!

    Mark & Phil Brewer are an absolute disgrace; and Durham Cathedral in continue to play host to them is hardly any better. Shame upon them!

  8. I should know this, but what sort of things does employees liability insurance cover? Accidents to staff? To customers? Accidents involving damage to stock? Accidents involving damage to Cathedral premises where the shop are liable? Damage caused by employees to Cathedral premises during the course of their duties?

    If this insurance is invalid, and an employee has a stack of books fall on them at Durham cathedral bookshop, causing a disability which affects their ability to work/earn money, what happens? The union advice sounds weak to me, but as I said, I don’t know much about these things.

  9. Anybody could be sacked by the drop of a hat. The Brewers have done it by e-mail.

  10. Judging by the photos on asingleblog’s blog, I don’t think stacks of books falling on staff are the main problem or danger there, however.

  11. Ezra those are just a few photos. Some shelves are entirely empty.

  12. Pingback: Comparing Notes: What a Bookshop Shouldn’t Look Like, and What It Should « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  13. So here’s some answers to some of the questions posed recently:

    Employers Liability insurance is a legal requirement since 1972 as a direct result of the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.
    If Mssr Brewers businesses are visited by the Health and Safety Executive they will request your certificate of Employers Liability Insurance. (hence the advice to contact H&S).
    If you are unable to produce a certificate for them they can fine you £1000 and they can fine your business £2,500 for every day you are without suitable insurance.
    Now the question is wether H&S would accept an SSG doc. for ENC or DCSMC etc.
    If there is not a sign up saying who the owners are or the trading co other than DCSMC etc, or if the H&S were to be shown something with the owners name/details etc on disclaiming a link to SSG, an email or some such??, then it is highly likely that no they wont accept it as ‘suitable’ .

    Ok now for the fun bit the definition of an employee is anybody you have on your premises who is assisting you in your work.
    It may be on a part-time basis, a full-time employee, students on work experience courses, a self-employed sub-contractor, a person working on a trial basis to see if they are suitable, and even voluntary workers.
    And yes agency staff are employee’s as well – though they will potentially have a claim against both the agency and the place they were working when the accident/injury occured. (Most agencies get over this by including disclaimers in both the contract with the employee and then the one with the company that has entered into a contract with them for finding staff for them!)
    They are all technically employed by SSG/ENC whatever name of the day – oh wait Mssrs Brewer because they are the directors of whatever name they choose and therefore legally culpable!, because they are under their instruction and working on their premises.

    Finally as to what Employers Liability Insurance actaully does – well it helps businesses to meet the cost of compensation and legal action for injuries to their employees sustained while at work. A bit like your car insurance helps pay for repairs and claims!

    The other insurances to check, but unlike the above these are not compulsory, is Public Liability (that’s for if the mising books materialise in the middle of the floor and trip the customer up, or in the need to hoover and dust every 10 seconds to comply with orders the staff accidently suck the kid visitors up Henry or the dust sets off an asthma attack in a visitor!) and Product Liability (especially for if the dodgy soaps and lotions are still around – allergic reaction or poisoning claims, or perhaps the holy icon agate is just too sharp in it’s cutting edge looks and slashes open something it shouldn’t).

  14. So what happens to employees of the landlord of the Brewers who happen to be in the shop changing a lightbulb or working on the central heating and they accidentally break a leg? Does the shop with dodgy/non-existant insurance pay, or the landlord?
    Conversely, are the employees of the Brewers covered by the public liability of the Cathedral?

  15. Ezra,
    The landlord as the employer of the employee and the one who has sanctioned/requested the work would be responsible, though depending on the circumstances that caused the accident there may be also be a H&S claim on the shop. However initially if the shop was not directly responsible (ie one of the staff did not knock the person off the ladder and had not tampered with the lights/heat that caused the explosion that knocked the person off the ladder) then the shop has no culpability in this issue as they are not the employer.
    However if the shop contracted the employee from the employer to do the repairs on their behalf then as the property is rented/contracted to the shop owners/company then the liability is the shops responsibility.
    All of these as per standard commercial contract and lease will be spelt out in black and white. Landlords in commercial lets nearly always pass responsibility on for repairs and maintenance to the leasee.
    So if someone happens to be changing a lightbulb or working on dodgy heating and breaks the leg the shop is likely the one with the legal responsibility to pay regardless of legal insurance docs or not.
    In fact failure to have the necessary legal paperwork in place, rather like not having car insurance, will result in much more cost and potential legal action.

  16. Squirrel and Ezra, don’t go there. Just agree that the shop staff are not insured. Just agree that none of the staff employed by SSG are covered. The guy who fixes lightbulbs in the Durham Cathedral Shop will be covered by the Cathedral.

  17. Can you be sure he is covered by the Cathedral for work in the Brewer-leased shop?

  18. He has to be since he is employed by the Dean and Chapter. Those employed by the Brewers are not covered.

  19. Can the shop be sure of that – that the Dean and Chapter can`t claim on non-existant insurance for their own damaged employees?

  20. In the scenarios given by Squiggle Jones the workman would be insured under his employers liability insurance – in this case the Dean and Chapter. Should they be self employed then they would be foolish not to have their own insurance. If the Dean and Chapter then choose to chase the B****** for negligence that is up to them.

    The lack of employers liability insurance would affect directly those employed by the B******. Should an employee be injured in the course of their duties then they should be concerned about a lack of Employers liability insurance. Of course they should be certain what their duties are so the the B****** can’t wriggle out of it… so no changing lightbulbs in Durham.

  21. I hope that not only the Durham staff but all other staff are taking care of themselves. No worker should have to work in a workplace that does not ensure the Health and Safety of its workers.

  22. Pingback: J Mark Brewer’s Declared Debts « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  23. Pingback: J Mark and Phil Brewer evicted from Durham Cathedral Bookshop (SPCK/SSG Campaign) | The Wardman Wire

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