A multimillionaire businessman who threatened to take his parents’ home away from them has lost a legal battle after they appealed against a High Court ruling granting him control of the family caravan empire.
Michael Loveridge, 50, and his parents Ivy, 75, and Alldey, 78, are fighting for control of the family’s chain of caravan parks and caravan sales business based in Bewdley, Worcestershire.
The 50-year-old is a director of several of the family companies involved in the fight, one of which controls £5m worth of assets and another which has almost £5m more in capital, according to Companies House.
But his parents are majority shareholders in most of the companies, which, until earlier this year, gave them control over the empire.
The High Court granted two court orders, in April and May, which gave Michael interim control over the three business partnerships and five family companies.
The court orders could also have seen Michael’s parents sent to jail if they tried to interfere.
Now though, Ivy and Alldey have succeeded in an Appeal Court fight to overturn the High Court ruling.
Lance Ashworth QC, who represented Ivy and Alldey, said: ‘In an email dated 10th June 2020, Michael’s solicitor suggested that the eponymous site owned by Riverside ‘should be sold first’…and said that Ivy and Alldey, Michael’s parents, ‘will be required to give up vacant possession’ of their home, a bungalow located on the Riverside site, when that site was ‘disposed of’.
‘This threat to take their home off them was undoubtedly an attempt to apply pressure on Ivy and Alldey and/or to provoke them. It is hardly the sort of act one would expect of a son towards his parents.’
Mr Ashworth argued that the High Court’s decision to grant Michael sole interim control over the family businesses was baseless and that Judge McCahill had acted in ‘a way no reasonable judge would have’.
He said: ‘The Loveridge business empire was founded by Ivy and Alldey around 1973, when Michael was about three years old. Michael claims much of the credit for the businesses’ growth and success.
‘Ivy and Alldey deny Michael’s version of events. A great deal regarding the history of the businesses, and the roles and conduct of various members of the family in relation to them, is hotly disputed.
‘Michael has fallen out with Ivy and Alldey and his siblings. The reasons for this are again highly contentious.’
However, David Stockill who represented Michael, said that Judge McCahill had made the right decision because his client was now the driving force behind the business.
He said: ‘Michael was the driving force of the expansion of the business… Michael was the person who was exercising day-to-day control of the business and had principally been responsible for their strategic development.
‘It is not that Alldey and Ivy have not contributed. So far as the acquisition, ownership and management of sites is concerned, Michael had a good starting point.
‘His parents had thus contributed the ‘seed capital’. They have been well rewarded with the significantly larger interests in the partnerships and companies which Michael allowed them, and does not challenge.
‘He did this out of filial loyalty and family responsibility in circumstances where many other individuals would have considered their own interests further.’
The Court of Appeal ruled that both the partnership order and the companies order imposed by Judge McCahill were to be discharged.
Lord Justice Lewison, Lord Justice Floyd and Lady Justice Asplin will give their reasons at a later date.
Despite this legal defeat, Michael still intends on going ahead with his attempts to have his mother, brother and sister sent to jail for allegedly breaching the partnership injunction while it was in place.
Mr Ashworth said: ‘Eighteen counts of contempt are alleged. Ivy denies that she is guilty of any of them.’
The fight for control of the empire is now set to go back to the High Court for a full trial on a date yet to be set.
Mr Ashworth said the bitter feud initially flared up when Ivy and Alldey accused Michael of having ‘misappropriated’ £1.25m from one of the family companies to purchase another caravan park for himself.
At Birmingham High Court earlier this year, Michael’s parents tried to have him removed as director of that company.
It was during this court battle that he was granted interim control of the day-to-day running of the caravan empire – including the winding up of two business partnerships which would have seen his parents forced to leave their home, said Mr Ashworth.