Back to business for HoC

Keith Baldwin, chairman of Home of Choice, says it’s back to business for the network now that the showdown between his company and Zurich has been settled out of court.

Neither party has commented on whether money was involved but Baldwin says HoC is not a business that relishes court proceedings when a problem can be settled out of court.

The announcement was made last Thursday in a joint statement, after Mortgage Strategy revealed exclusively that the case was to be settled out of court.

The statement read: “Legal proceedings between Openwork and Zurich against Home of Choice, Richard Coulson and Gerry O’Brien have been settled today on commercial terms. The legally binding commitments and promises given by Home of Choice to the court in July 2005 will continue for set periods. The terms of the settlement are confidential.”

Both Coulson and O’Brien were due to face former employee Zurich in the High Court of Justice in London this month.

The legal battle would have seen Coulson, former Zurich Mortgage Network director, dispute allegations that he was still in Zurich’s employment when he started promoting his network Home of Choice, launched on July 1.

Coulson decided to form his own network after being offered a role with the Zurich Openwork network as sales director for the North, which he says was not what he wanted to do. Coulson argued he was made redundant after his role ceased to exist.

Zurich had issued an urgent interim injunction against O’Brien, Coulson and Home of Choice this July, which was based on allegations including accusations the defendants were in breach of restrictive covenants. This involved them improperly using an Openwork email service to induce Openwork franchisees to breach their contracts with Openwork.