Court keeps Crimson Consulting case detail secret

Jamie Beaton's company had wanted NBR to take down stories about it. 

An Employment Court judge has ruled Crimson Consulting can keep messy details of its litigation against Otago business woman Samantha Berry secret at the request of the education company.

Jamie Beaton’s company had applied for comprehensive non-publication orders over the dispute, which relates to restraint of trade.

According to court documents, Ms Berry sold her shares in UniTutor in 2015 to Crimson and agreed to become an employee. However, she resigned about six months later.

Lawyers from Crimson wrote to Ms Berry asserting she breached the sale deal for her shares and her employment agreement, claiming she used the UniTutor database to move business to her new company TutorConnect.

These matters went to the Employment Relations Authority and were reported by the media, after which Crimson had sought take-down orders from publications including NBR and the NZ Herald. It later withdrew from that stance.

Judge Bruce Corkill says in his decision given that an earlier Employment Relations Authority decision made public had resulted in the media reports, and noting Crimson had withdrawn its take down orders, it was futile to award non-publication orders over the fact of the dispute.  

“The evidence is that [Beaton] has a prominent public profile, which it appears is relevant to his business interests. In my view, there is a legitimate public interest in knowing that he is involved in this litigation since it pertains to those interests.”

However, the judge decided that some non-publication orders could be made suppressing some allegedly irrelevant evidence.

Crimson has requested that parts of the full hearing to be held later this year also be kept secret. Judge Corkill says that will be a matter for the trial judge.

Crimson was co-founded by Mr Beaton and is backed by two US multi-billionaires, with recent investments valuing it at about $220 million. NBR revealed last year it forecasted revenue of more than $4.1 million for the year to June 2016 off the back of six company acquisitions.

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