High Court to rule on 'Grapes of Wrath'
By S'THEMBISO MSOMI
THE David and Goliath battle over the SA raisin market is to go to the High Court after the Competition Tribunal declared a notice of appeal lodged by SAD Holdings invalid.
SAD Holdings and its subsidiary, SA Vine Fruits, are taking the tribunal to the High Court in an attempt to overturn its interim order in favour of SA Raisins (SAR) and grapes-forraisins farmer Johannes Petrus Slabber.
SAR and Slabber took the SAD companies to the Competition Commission last year, claiming they were engaged in restrictive practices which excluded other producers from the market.
They also applied for an interim order suspending aspects of SAD's articles of association, which prevented grapesfor-raisins growers from selling to anyone other than SA Vine Fruits.
The interim order, valid for six months and equivalent to a High Court interdict, was granted last November.
In terms of the order, SAD was required to inform shareholders - who make up the majority of grapes-for-raisins growers - by no later than last December 6.
But on that day SAD appealed against the order and effectively asked its shareholders to ignore it, the tribunal said.
The tribunal ruled, however, that there were no grounds for appeal. "The approach that they [SAD] advocate would render any form of interim relief worthless," the tribunal said.
The SAD had argued that the interim order might result in it losing part of the current season's crop to SAR, but the tribunal disputed this: "The order merely requires of the respondents that they temporarily suspend the operation of certain of their articles of association. It requires that, in the interim, they will not take action against farmers who deliver their product to the processing plant of their choice."
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