Minister skirts issue of HMV vouchers

Fri, Jan 25, 2013, 00:00

If a company issues gift vouchers it knows it cannot honour, it is a serious matter under company law . . . Companies cannot act in a misleading way when conducting business

Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton refused to be drawn on whether he would ask the HMV receiver to pursue the company for selling gift vouchers when it knew it might not be able to honour them.

Questioned in the Dáil about the music company’s refusal to honour its vouchers in Ireland, Mr Bruton said consumer law “prohibits traders from engaging in unfair or misleading commercial practices”.

Fianna Fáil enterprise spokesman Dara Calleary pointed out that the company advised investors before Christmas that there was significant doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern. He said “surely it is within our capacity to amend the law that where a company issues such a warning it is not allowed to trade in vouchers or accept money for future purchase when it knows it cannot honour them”.

The Mayo TD asked why a HMV voucher purchased in the UK would be honoured but not one bought in Ireland.

Mr Bruton said “if a company issues gift vouchers it knows it cannot honour, it is a serious matter under company law”. Such instances would be reported to the receiver and in turn “would have to be investigated with potential action being taken. Companies cannot act in a misleading way when conducting business.”

Deloitte

Mr Bruton said the receiver, Deloitte, was “making every effort to find a buyer for the Irish operation” and communicating with staff was a priority. Mr Calleary questioned the Minister’s faith in the receiver and said it was the National Consumer Agency that found out that HMV Ireland was a separate operation from HMV UK.

But Mr Bruton declined to be drawn when Mr Calleary asked if he would get the receiver to pursue the company about selling vouchers. He said the issue of changing the law on gift vouchers would give voucher holders precedence over other creditors and that “would raise considerable issues”.