“Business as usual” at AppChat amid court battle

 ·18 Apr 2012
John Holdsworth

AppChat founder John Holdsworth says that it is business as usual until the next court hearing between the group and JSE-listed Reunert, set for May.

In late March 2012, Reunert announced that it had instituted proceedings against John Holdsworth, seeking to enforce contractual restraint of trade and confidentiality undertakings given by Holdsworth in favour of Reunert. This followed Reunert’s acquisition of the ECN Telecommunications business in June last year.

The two companies appeared in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday (17 April 2012).

“The North Gauteng High Court today ruled that John Holdsworth and his company AppChat are prohibited from employing any of the employees or former employees of Reunert until a hearing is held towards the end of May,” ECN said in a statement.

“The Court also directed Mr Holdsworth to abide by the terms of the restraint contained in his contract of employment with Reunert. Reunert brought an application on 26 March 2012 to enforce contractual restraint of trade and confidentiality undertakings given by Mr Holdsworth in favour of Reunert, following its acquisition of the ECN Telecommunications business in June last year,” it said.

However, AppChat founder, John Holdsworth told MyBroadband BusinessTech that he does not believe that he is in breach of any restraints, and it is therefore business as usual at AppChat until a court ruling on the matter.

Following Reunert’s initial proceedings against Holdsworth in March, the entrepreneur hit back saying that Reunert’s claim that AppChat is establishing a business in competition with Nashua ECN is “transparent nonsense”.

The AppChat CEO said that “Reunert is a large listed company and is simply conducting itself as the proverbial corporate bullyboy, using ECN, a fixed-line operator, as a proxy for one of its other companies, Nashua Mobile, in order to stifle future competition in the mobile market”.

Court date set

Reunert and AppChat will be back in court on 29 May 2012.

AppChat attorneys, Knowles Husain Lindsay Inc said in a statement that John Holdsworth and AppChat were “successful in opposing the grant of the extensive relief sought by Reunert”.

“Rather, the court postponed the hearing to 29 May 2012 in order to enable Holdsworth and AppChat to file affidavits and place their version before the court, whereafter a full and proper hearing can take place.”

Holdsworth highlighted that the court did not make a ruling on the restraint. “Therefore abiding by the restraint in the interim is completely open to the interpretation of the parties,” said Holdsworth.

“Our view is that we are not in breach of any restraints and do not intend to breach any of the restraints, therefore as far as we are concerned it is business as usual until the 29th.”

“The only impact is on the employees, but that, in effect, is only a two week holding pattern until the matter is heard on the 29th of May as the employees resignation periods only expire in mid May,” he concluded.

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