2degrees' Edwards dispute could linger

Employment dispute involving the mobile telco's founder may drag on beyond next month

A dispute between 2degrees and its co-founder and investor Tex Edwards could drag on beyond next month despite attempts to settle the matter through mediation, a judgment of the Employment Court has revealed.

The Employment Court granted an interim injunction on July 12 preventing the dismissal of Edwards, who held the position of company strategist, instead placing him on paid ''garden leave''.

2degrees had sought to disestablish Edwards' job after chief executive Eric Hertz labelled him a ''distraction'' for the company and said the telecommunications firm was ''not well served by his presence''.

Edwards is believed to be separately in dispute over the terms by which 2degrees has raised fresh equity from shareholders, diluting his own one percent shareholding in the company.

In the written judgment explaining the injunction, just obtained by BusinessDay, Judge Barry Travis said the substantive hearing between Edwards and 2degrees had been set down for a three-day hearing in front of the Employment Relations Authority commencing on August 22.

But he said an application had been made to move those proceedings to the Employment Court, which could cause a delay.

He said at the time of the injunction that a fresh attempt at mediation would be made.

Edwards' original 2002 employment contract entitled him to three years' notice of dismissal, though it was not clear whether that now applied in this situation, Judge Travis said.

Edwards clearly had knowledge and important connections Edwards thought would be of use to 2degrees, Judge Travis said, but 2degrees took the view his position was ''surplus'' now it had entered ''a new era''.

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