In late March, Reunert instituted proceedings against former employee and founder of AppChat, 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, of which Holdsworth was CEO, in June last year.
The companies were due to battle it out in court on 29 May however a spokesperson at Reunert told BusinessTech: “The case has been set for 2 and 3 August. The delay is due to the unavailability of judges this week and then a recess.”
“My restraint runs out at the end of July making any relief sought by Reunert for the most part academic. They have already stated in their founding affidavit that any damages suffered by it, will be difficult, if not, impossible to quantify,” Holdsworth told BusinessTech.
“I think what is going on here is very simple to work out, but I will let others arrive at the obvious conclusion. Frankly speaking the whole affair is becoming very boring. But as they say, whatever floats your boat,” he added.
Additional issues to be taken up in court extend past restraint of trade matters and include poaching of staff.
Earlier this month, Holdsworth accused Reunert of engaging in delaying tactics as the group was due to file a replying affidavit to the court. However, the group cited a late document submission by Holdsworth for missing the deadline.
The North Gauteng High Court ruled on 17 April 2012 that Holdsworth and AppChat were prohibited from employing any of the employees or former employees of Reunert until a hearing was held towards the end of May.
The Court also directed Holdsworth to abide by the terms of the restraint contained in his contract of employment with Reunert.
However, the AppChat founder told MyBroadband BusinessTech that he did not believe that he was in breach of any restraints, and he would therefore conduct his business as usual at AppChat until a court ruling on the matter.
Following Reunert’s initial proceedings against Holdsworth in March, 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”.
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,” he said.
“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 (May),” he said.