ASIC beefs up its case against tech company GetSwift (ASX: GSW)


Then the company in February last year revealed that fewer than half the contracts it had been publicising were generating any revenue, sending its share price into freefall.

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The former sharemarket darling, which listed in December 2016 at 20¢, had raised $75 million from investors at $4 a share just months prior to the shock announcement. Its shares were trading at 32¢ on Thursday.

GetSwift, which has always backed its announcement-making process, is vigorously defending both the ASIC matter and a separate class action alleging deceptive disclosures about some of its contracts.

GetSwift directors Joel Macdonald, a former Melbourne Football Club player, and Bane Hunter are also defending allegations by ASIC that they were involved in the failure of GetSwift to meet its obligations.

The tech company chalked up a minor win on Thursday, with Justice Michael Lee agreeing with GetSwift’s lawyers that a class action brought against the company should not be heard at the same time as the ASIC case.

The separate trials mean GetSwift will be spending nearly a quarter of 2020 defending the two cases. The ASIC case is expected to take six weeks to be heard due to the large number of witnesses testifying against GetSwift.

I refuse to accept the proposition that I am not capable of hearing separate evidence in two cases.

Justice Michael Lee

Justice Lee decided to separate the trials in an at-times heated hearing between lawyers for GetSwift, ASIC and the class action claimants.

Lawyers for GetSwift also argued Justice Lee should not hear both cases, leading to a tense exchange between counsel for GetSwift, Matthew Darke SC, and Justice Lee.

“I refuse to accept the proposition that I am not capable of hearing separate evidence in two cases,” Justice Lee said. “There’s no point raising your voice against me Mr Darke.”

Justice Lee agreed to hear a future application from GetSwift to reconsider whether there was a potential bias issue if the judge heard both cases.

A spokeswoman for GetSwift said the company was pleased at the outcome of the hearing.

Sarah Danckert is a business reporter.

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