Old Mutual seeks clarity from court on what work Peter Moyo should be allowed to do

PUBLISHED: Wed, 09 Oct 2019 20:56:33 GMT

By Fifi Peters, reporter and anchor at CNBC Africa

As Peter Moyo prepares to file his responding papers to Old Mutual, the insurer wants clarity on what work Moyo, who won his court case to be reinstated as CEO in July, should be allowed to do.

This was proffered in the insurer’s court documents filed on Tuesday in response to Moyo’s contempt of court application against it, Chairman Trevor Manuel and its 13-member board for twice firing him as CEO and thrice barring him from returning to his corner office at the Sandton-based insurance company.

How Moyo can return to work

At Old Mutual’s press briefing last month, the board members that were present, supported Manuel’s remarks that Moyo could hold meetings in the insurer’s foyer over coffee if he so wished, but would not be granted access to his office.

But the company has now asked the court to clarify in what role Moyo can resume his duties as CEO, if the court ruling ordering his temporary reinstatement on July 30 holds.

For more on the #OldMutualvsMoyo saga click here

“Insofar as the Court considers that the temporarily restored contract of employment requires Old Mutual not only to pay Mr Moyo for his tender of services but also to put him to work…then the Court should issue clear orders as to what work Mr Moyo is required by the Court order to do, and what restrictions to that work may permissibly be imposed by the companies to protect their interests during the period of further litigation that will be taking place,” the court documents say.

Request for softer sentence other than jail

Other issues raised in the 49 page document, are that Old Mutual’s non-executive directors could not have acted in contempt of court because they were guided by legal counsel from Bowman Gillfilan and further independent legal advice at all times.

But in the event that the court rules that they are in contempt, a softer sentence should be considered by the court as imprisonment, the punishment for contempt, would be “excessive” and “inappropriate.”

“I respectively submit that even if all the elements of contempt were found to be established, imprisonment would be an inappropriately harsh punishment and certainly not warranted on the facts of this case,” says Craig McLeod, Head of Legal at Old Mutual in the court documents.

McLeod asks that the court to consider other relief for the directors to absolve their contempt such as a fine.

“What would be appropriate in the present circumstances…would be for it (the court) to set out in clear terms what specific actions are required by them to remedy that contempt,” he says.

Responding to Old Mutual’s affidavit, Moyo’s attorney Eric Mabuza of Mabuza Attorney’s told CNBC Africa that it was clear the company saw a real possibility that its directors faced imprisonment.

“That’s why they are praying for leniency from the court that if convicted, they should not go to jail,” Mabuza said.

He said Moyo was already in the process of preparing his response and that it would be submitted within the five day deadline.

The contempt of court hearings are expected to take place at the South Gauteng High court next month.

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