Old Mutual has applied for the recusal of Judge Brian Mashile in the trial of former CEO Peter Moyo’s against the company.
Moyo was fired in June, but the court found his dismissal was unlawful and ordered his temporary reinstatement. Old Mutual refused to allow him back in the office, and Moyo then filed a contempt of court application against the company’s board.
Old Mutual fired Moyo again in August, and Moyo lodge another contempt of court application against this termination.
Earlier this month, in his replying affidavit, Moyo listed seven incidents that informed his contempt of court legal suit - including remarks made by Old Mutual chair Trevor Manuel about Mashile at a media conference, where he referred to the judge as a "single individual who happens to wear a robe".
In a statement on Tuesday, Old Mutual says Moyo is claiming that “Old Mutual and its directors have embarked on a campaign of insulting Judge Mashile personally”.
“This has created a situation where it is not reasonable for Judge Mashile to hear the matter. Old Mutual and its directors have therefore been advised to apply for his recusal as the presiding judge in the upcoming contempt of court hearing, which as things stand is due to be heard in early November,”
“The decision to proceed with the recusal application was a difficult one. The directors emphatically state they mean no disrespect to Judge Mashile. However, by making Judge Mashile the subject of the contempt proceedings, Mr Moyo’s team have created a situation where the judge would have to decide on claims which now directly involve him personally.”
Old Mutual also said that its own appeal against the high-court judgement that it has to temporarily reinstate Moyo as CEO will be heard on December 4th.
“Though keen to put the matter behind the company, the dispute with the former CEO threatens to upend corporate governance and general principles of company law if left unchallenged. Even as the Board seeks a speedy resolution consistent with their duties, the directors also have a duty and obligation to defend through the courts the legitimacy of the Board and its actions in the best interests of Old Mutual,” Old Mutual said.
Moyo believes Old Mutual directors should be given six months' jail time, without the option of a fine, on the contempt of court charges.
Old Mutual is currently being run by interim CEO Iain Williamson.
Compiled by Helena Wasserman