A dispute over legal fees has led to the collapse of a case in which Hilton software company, Accpick Automotive Solutions alleged its “intellectual property rights” were violated by some ex-employees.The company was granted a rare Anton Piller court order in August this year to search the homes and business premises of Tower Investments, Michael Graham, Madelyn Janse van Rensburg, Wesley Naidoo, Christelle van Rensburg and Raveshnee Naidoo for evidence.According to legal sources, an Anton Piller order is rarely granted by courts because it provides for the right to search and seize evidence without prior warning to the affected parties. The purpose is to ensure that the evidence is preserved and cannot be concealed or destroyed.The merits of the case were never dealt with in court, and the Anton Piller order was discharged yesterday by Judge Nkosinathi Chili due to the fact that Accpick found itself without a legal representative. He was told Accpick’s former attorney, Oliver Bernhard, had withdrawn, allegedly due to a fee dispute that had not been resolved. In court papers filed in response to the application, the sole director of Tower Investments, Michael Graham, slammed the Anton Piller order as a “gross violation” of the rights of his business and the affected individuals. Graham said all the respondents strongly disputed that they ever “removed, used or were in possession” of Accpick’s confidential information, programs or applications. He alleged the Anton Piller order was based on an “unfounded assertion” that they had removed intellectual property belonging to the company. “The order was too broad and was unjustified and the individuals taking part in the search violated the order in a number of aspects,” he said.Graham said the process had been abused resulting in the “carte blanche” and unnecessary seizure of equipment and records that were unrelated to the case, effectively “paralysing” his business. “As far as the search at the Hilton premises was concerned there was no attempt whatsoever to search the first respondent’s (Tower Investments) electronic equipment. The sheriff and his search party simply … took every piece of electronic equipment they could find,” he said, alleging the search party had engaged in “intimidating and unfair conduct”. He also alleged Accpick owner Darryl Taylor and Bernhard were present and joined in the search when they were not allowed to do so.As a result of the order being discharged yesterday, all equipment and records seized during the raids would now be automatically returned, legal sources said.