London Underground will be travelling to court after allegations that it derailed a UK software company by refusing to pay up for a computer system.
Byline Group today issued proceedings in the High Court for non-payment of more than £630,000, after claiming its attempts to settle the matter out of court failed and pleas to Transport Minister John Prescott fell on deaf ears.
The contract signed in 1998 involved the supply and installation of a computer system for London Transport Property (LTP), a subsidiary company of London Regional Transport (LRT), to assist with the management of LRT's property portfolio.
Byline has accused LRT of unexpectedly halting implementation of the system last year, and refusing to pay for work prior to then. The company said no reason was given, and that the dispute forced it to lay off most of its staff this February, reducing its business to providing maintenance only for other customers.
George Perfect, Byline's managing director, said: "Despite asking many, many times, we can still only speculate as to LRT's reasons for its refusal to pay us. As they have made no relevant complaints and given us no opportunity to remedy any perceived failings in the system, I can only conclude that we have done nothing wrong."
Appeals to John Prescott went unanswered for several months, according to Byline, and were brushed aside even after the intervention of the company's local constituency MP in the North East, John McWilliam.
An LRT spokesman said: "Hopefully the situation will resolve itself. But if it is going to court we don't want to comment as we do not want to prejudice the outcome of the court case."
Byline said the decision not to go ahead with the installation coincided with the announcement that all the property services provided by LTP were to be outsourced as part of the "formation of Transport for London and the Public Private Partnership for the Underground".
Perfect said: "Unfortunately, it is unlikely that anything a court can do will repair the far greater damage inflicted on this company by this dispute."
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