Tag Archives: bplaw.com

US Court Motion for Sanctions against Mark Brewer: Is the dam breaking at last?

Stand Up SPCK Up

By Matt Wardman.

This post looks at the implications of the motion Phil posted earlier, which you can read in full here. This could be the biggest development of the last 6 months towards moving this mess towards a resolution.

Randy W Williams, the Trustee in Bankruptcy for the Application for the Bankruptcy of the Society of Saint Stephen the Great by J. Mark Brewer and Brewer and Pritchard PC, filed a motion requesting sanctions against both J Mark Brewer and his law company on September 4th 2008, following on from the dismissal with prejudice of the application.

What is in the Motion?

Essentially, the kitchen sink. Among other things, the motion:

  • Requests that the Court enter sanctions against J. Mark Brewer and the law firm of Brewer & Pritchard, P.C. for filing this case in bad faith.
  • Accuses Mr Brewer of incomplete disclosure of information to the case conference, including failure to identify a bank account while handling large sums (100s of thousands of dollars) of money.
  • States that there was failure to disclose the existence of the ENC SHOP MANAGEMENT CO. entity.
  • States that Mr Brewer and Brewer and Pritchard have perpetrated a “fraud on the court”:

“Mr. Brewer and his firm engaged in a concerted scheme to mislead this Court and to file a bad faith bankruptcy case. Mr. Brewer’s action in failing to disclose the true name of the Debtor and the cancellation of its contract and assignment of those rights to another closely held company of Mr. Brewer is a fraud on this Court. “Fraud on the court” is an intentional act by an officer of the Court to deflect the Court from knowing all of the facts necessary to make an appropriate judicial decision on the matter before it.”

  • Identifies undisclosed conflicts of interest:

“Brewer’s failure to properly identify the Debtor, his conflicts in representing the Debtor while simultaneously being its chairman, and his position in ENC and St. Stephen the Great Registered Charity are all matters of significance that should have been disclosed, but as the docket and pleadings in this case reflect, none of these key events was disclosed. “

  • Accuses Mr Brewer of violation of disciplinary rules and possibly US Law:

“Brewer violated his duty of candor to the Court as well as other provisions of the Texas Disciplinary Rules by attempting to persuade the Court to allow this case to proceed. Brewer’s actions may also violate Title 18 of the United States Code.

  • Suggests that Mr Brewer should be sent back to learn about the Ethics of Legal Practice:

“Mr. Brewer be required to complete 20 hours of continuing legal education in the area of legal ethics over the next year and file a certificate of completion with the Court.

  • Proposes that sanctions worth potentially several hundred thousand dollars be imposed on Mr Brewer and Brewer and Pritchard, P.C.
  • Can be summarised in the final 2 paragraphs, which I quote in full:

14. At best, as this Court has already found, Mr. Brewer’s conduct was in bad faith. The Trustee submits as set forth herein that such bad faith also amounts to a fraud on the Court. At worst, his conduct violates § 157 of Title 18 and possibly other statutes. As an attorney and a law firm, Mr. Brewer and Brewer & Pritchard owe a duty of candor and honesty to this Court and to the bankruptcy process. The acts that are the subject of this motion violate that duty. In addition, the filing of this case in the United States where almost every creditor is located in the United Kingdom brings disrepute to the Bankruptcy Courts of the United States as they are being used as a haven for a party attempting to escape justice where it was formed and where it did business. Mr. Brewer seeks to use the designation of St. Stephen as a charity to somehow suggest that his conduct does not bear scrutiny. In fact, just the opposite should be true, any attempt by an alleged charity to escape or defer its obligations should be subject to the utmost in candor and disclosure so that no question of impropriety exists. Here, just the opposite is demonstrated by Mr. Brewer’s conduct, and he and his firm must bear responsibility for these actions and make amends to this Court, the Trustee and most significantly the bankruptcy process so that creditors, especially those in a situation like this who are looking at the system from outside U.S. borders, can see that parties who would attempt to subvert the law to escape their responsibilities will be punished.

15. Accordingly, the Trustee requests that the Court grant the Trustee’s motion, enter sanctions consistent with the foregoing and grant such other relief as is just.

What are the Implications?

I don’t know where to start here. In short, the whole thing could be blown wide open. There are implications for all aspects of the SPCK case. To mention just a few obvious points:

  • Assets may in fact be available to fund compensation to those more than two dozen employees of SPCK who are have made claims in Employment Tribunals.
  • The same goes for the many suppliers to the
  • Monies paid to Brewer and Pritchard may potentially be recoverable if shown to not have been properly expended.
  • Transfers of significant stocks of books have occurred between Bookshops under management by different entities. Were these properly accounted for?
  • The motion itself may provide justification for freeholders and landlords of some of the SPCK shops to take action where previously they have held back due to continuing legal processes.
  • Personal Liability may attach to the Trustees of the Society of Saint Stephen the Great for debts following this motion – dependent on the outcome.
  • These statements by an official of a US Court may turn out to be material in any investigations by British regulatory bodies such as the Charity Commission.

And that is just scratching the surface.

Wrapping Up

As they say – watch this space. A PDF of this article and the motion is available here.

In the meantime, there will be a lot to talk about at the ex-Employees’ meeting today.

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Brewer and Pritchard PC: The Things They Say

With Principal Partner J Mark Brewer having joined forces with his brother, Philip, to successfully decimate the former SPCK Bookshops in pursuit of their vision for Orthodox Mission, I thought it would be useful to reflect on what, exactly, this “Professional Corporation” from Houston, Texas, believes in.

A Google search for the company reveals some interesting snippets:

  1. Welcome to Brewer & Pritchard, P.C.

    Disclaimer: Please be advised that Brewer & Pritchard, P.C. has not agreed to represent you or render legal advice to you by virtue of your having visited 
    http://www.bplaw.com/ – 19k – Cached – Similar pages
  2. Welcome to Brewer & Pritchard, P.C.

    The attorneys at Brewer & Pritchard are aware that efficient staffing and direct accountability produce cost-effective results. Respect for clients’ budgets 
    http://www.bplaw.com/index.cfm?menuitemid=145 – 18k – Cached – Similar pages
    More results from www.bplaw.com »

The first, I have to say, came as an immense relief: knowing that Brewer & Pritchard had not agreed to offer me their services was the best news I’d come across for some considerable time, and I’d like to go on public record as thanking them for that. A considerable saving on outrageous legal fees, I believe…

The second: I truly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Let’s run through that again: “The attorneys at Brewer & Pritchard are aware that efficient staffing and direct accountability produce cost-effective results. Respect for clients’ budgets…This, then, is no doubt the strategy that lies at the heart of the Brewers’ business practices here in the UK:

  • Efficient staffing
  • Direct accountability
  • Respect for clients’ budgets

Rather than comment directly myself on the subject of “efficient staffing”, I quote from Usdaw’s statement dated 24 June 2008:

Shopworkers’ union, Usdaw, has submitted 15 employment tribunal claims against the Brewers, US-based brothers who have taken over a chain of UK bookshops and were seeking to impose a new contract on staff, drastically reducing their contractual rights…

Following the change of ownership, a new contract was drawn up increasing the working week from 37.5 to 40 hours with no additional pay, turning all part-time staff into casual staff with no guaranteed hours every week and taking away all rights to company sick pay.

Now, virtually all Usdaw members have been dismissed with no notice, some by email, and have received little or no information about what this means for their rights and their pay.

Er, yes… efficient staffing indeed.

On the topic of “direct accountability”, it’s equally encouraging to know that Philip Brewer holds himself directly accountable for the activities of his branch management team and likes to send them jolly memos to build up their confidence as they serve the company. His most recent memo that we know of was, of course, reported here earlier this week, Philip Brewer says, “Immediately post this…”, and an earlier one was kindly shared with us by Ruth Gledhill in May last year.

Then there’s the little question of “Respect for clients’ budgets…” — one might hope that would, perhaps, include such things as not charging your clients the kind of fees that bring them to the point where you yourself declare them bankrupt. But I suppose that’s OK if you’re on the Board of your client’s company: then it’s just an innocent little internal transfer, isn’t it? Mark, we know you’re an expert on all things legal: could you outline the USA legal position on this for us please? Here in the UK the word “fraud” comes to mind, and I’m sure that couldn’t possibly be right…

So let’s continue to take what encouragement we can from the knowledge that Brewer and Pritchard PC have not agreed to render us their legal services: thank you, gentlemen.

Finally, let’s make it very, very clear that the Brewer approach to Orthodox Mission and bookshop management is most definitely NOT representative of the wider Orthodox community. In particular, Steve, at Khanya Blog, has made a point of distancing himself from the Brewers’ disreputable behaviour:

Avoiding mistakes in mission is especially well worth reading, articulating an intelligent strategy on how a more orthodox Orthodox group might have gone about establishing themselves here in the UK via a chain of Christian bookshops. Steve, should you ever wish to pursue this further, I for one would welcome your involvement in the UK Christian bookselling scene… I believe there’s a Cathedral Bookshop somewhere in northern England which needs of someone sensible to run it…
– Phil Groom

Going for Gold with Google

If getting to the top of Google’s search results was an Olympic sport, here’s how we’d be doing with three important search queries on google.com this week:

Google Search: Brewer and Pritchard

Matt Wardman comes in a close 5th with his Category: brewer and pritchard whilst Elizaphanian (Sam Norton) comes in at No. 6 position with Unbelievable allegations about J Mark Brewer of BPLaw (Brewer and Pritchard)You’re winning on this one, Mark, but I dare say it’s getting a bit close for comfort…

Google Search: J Mark Brewer

The Revd Dr Christian Troll of GAFCON fame takes 4th place with JMark Brewer: Still Seeking to Serve Dave Walker, my J Mark Brewer, I Salute You. Briefly takes 5th place and J Mark Brewer himself comes in 7th place courtesy of lawyers.com. His personal profile at Brewer and Pritchard (bplaw.com) comes in somewhere towards the bottom of the second page: it’s worth checking out — apparently one of his primary areas of practice is employment. Sorry to have to say it, Mark, but you’re distinctly outclassed on this one.

Google Search: SPCK SSG

Ministry of Truth comes in 4th place with SSG/SPCK motion to dismiss chapter 7 application whilst UKCBD: The Christian Bookshops Blog takes 5th place with SPCK/SSG News Archives followed by the Orthodox Wiki at No. 6 with St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust. I gave up on finding any official SSG websites after the fourth page of search results…

Overall I’d say we’re in a fairly respectable position: congratulations to all concerned! And congratulations, of course, to everyone on Team GB in Beijing for putting on such an amazing and truly Olympian performance so far!

Hat tip and thanks to episcopalian whose posts listed below (most recent first) inspired this post: