Holdsworth levels new claims against Reunert
The AppChat founder has been granted leave to appeal by the supreme court of appeal in Bloemfontein in his ongoing battle with Reunert and, at the same time, has accused the JSE-listed group of “committing a fraud” on the high court. By Duncan McLeod.
Former ECN Telecommunications CEO John Holdsworth has been granted leave to appeal by the supreme court of appeal in Bloemfontein in his legal battle with Reunert, which acquired ECN, recently renamed Nashua Communications, in 2011.
At the same time, Holdsworth, who founded ECN, has levelled new allegations against Reunert, accusing the JSE-listed group of “concocting” claims and misleading the high court in Pretoria in order to stop him from launching his new business, telecoms specialist AppChat.
Nashua Communications CEO Andy Openshaw says he won’t get involved in a slanging match with Holdsworth and says Reunert’s legal team will reply in court to his latest allegations. “It’s just more of the same,” he says.
Openshaw adds that the interdict that Reunert won from the high court is still in place, preventing Holdsworth from launching AppChat. “Any breaches by AppChat while the appeal is being heard … would still be in contempt of the court rulings, even with the approval of the appeal. What we sought at the court is in place and will remain in place until this entire process has run out.”
Last year, the high court found that Holdsworth had breached his restraint of trade and had actively solicited employees and customers of his former employer in launching AppChat.
High court judge Selby Baqwa ruled that Holdsworth was aware of an intention by Nashua Communications to enter the mobile voice market — the same market AppChat intended to target — and that the restraint of trade he had signed with the company was relevant to the case. Holdsworth denies these charges. The ruling meant Holdsworth was effectively barred from launching AppChat.
Baqwa later turned down Holdsworth’s application for leave to appeal, prompting him to take his appeal directly to the supreme court, which ruled in his favour on Monday.
The case will now be heard by a full bench of the high court in Pretoria, according to Holdsworth, who has denied claims by Reunert that Nashua Communications — or ECN as it was known then — ever intended to compete in the mobile telecommunications market.
In a statement, Holdsworth says he has “documentary evidence” from a “whistle blower” at Nashua Communications that “proves that Reunert misled the court”.
“The evidence proves that, contrary to its founding and replying affidavits, Reunert had not budgeted either for income or expenditure on its alleged mobile VoIP (voice-over-Internet protocol) application and did not have any intention of developing a mobile VoIP application or launching a mobile VoIP service.”
Holdsworth claims Reunert “concocted” this for purposes of its application. “I am aware that the allegations I am making are of a serious nature [and] I do not make these allegations lightly. I say that Reunert has committed a fraud on the court and on AppChat. Indeed, my attorney has already written to Reunert’s attorneys recording that I am laying charges of perjury against Reunert and the deponent to its affidavits.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media