Fastjet Airbus A319. Courtesy, Fastjet

Low-cost African start-up Fastjet has turned to the UK legal system in a bid to end the ongoing dispute with Five Forty Aviation over rights to use the Fly540 brand.

Fastjet said it had “issued proceedings in the High Court of Justice in England” seeking a declaration that it had fulfilled its obligations under the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) made between Fastjet (formally Rubicon Diversified Investments) and Five Forty Aviation last June. Fastjet is also seeking court confirmation that “it has paid Five Forty Aviation CEO Don Smith in full for his shares in Fly540.”

Smith claims Fastjet still owes Five Forty Aviation nearly $6.8 million, and in retaliation, withdrew the licenses granted to Fastjet to use the Fly540 brand for its operations in Angola, Ghana and Tanzania.

Fastjet is also seeking an order from High Court requiring Smith immediately to “hand over all the necessary documents to complete the transfer of control of Fly540 Kenya to Fastjet and/or its nominees.”

The SPA is specifically governed by English Law.

Fastjet chairman David Lenigas said: “We are always reluctant to take legal action to enforce a contract, so we are disappointed that the company has had to resort to this measure to force Mr. Smith to complete his part of the commercial transaction that he agreed and signed off in June last year. The company has paid Mr. Smith a fair and reasonable price for his controlling interest in Fly540 Kenya and we expect to receive in full what we have paid for.”

Don Smith countered: “They are ignoring the fact that not all obligations of the deal have been fulfilled. Aspects such as the payment of $6.78 million of intra-company debt as well as the issuance of my shares remain outstanding.”

However, Lenigas stressed: “Fastjet is adamant that Mr. Smith has been paid his full consideration and we will now ask the High Court of Justice to rule on this matter. We sincerely hope that the process will be dealt with speedily, so that the unnecessary and apparently contrived confusion surrounding control of the Kenyan operations can finally be put to rest.”