The dispute between Bestjet Travel Pty Ltd and AFTA over the non-renewal of Bestjet’s ATAS accreditation looks set to go back to court.
AFTA confirmed yesterday that it would defend a claim lodged on 27 April 2016 by lawyers for Bestjet in the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Bestjet’s statement of claim names AFTA as defendant. It alleges breach of contract and contends that the termination of Bestjet’s ATAS accreditation constituted an unreasonable restraint of trade.
Bestjet is seeking an order to make AFTA renew Bestjet’s ATAS accreditation and AFTA membership. It is seeking a declaration that certain revisions to the ATAS charter, made on 9 June 2015 and 1 January 2016 and relating to the definition of “close associate”, are void. It is also seeking to permanently restrain AFTA from refusing to renew Bestjet’s accreditation on the basis that Bestjet sole director Rachel Catherine James is married to Michael David James, or that Michael David James is or may have been a “close associate”.
It is also seeking damages and costs.
AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury confirmed yesterday that AFTA would be defending the claim.
As background, in March 2016, AFTA stated that the ATAS accreditation and AFTA membership for “Bestjet Pty Ltd trading as Bestjet.com.au” had not been renewed. AFTA said this had happened after “an extensive process of appeal as provided by Revision 1 and 2 of the ATAS Charter”.
In March, the Supreme Court of Queensland granted Bestjet an injunction against AFTA, restraining AFTA from acting on its decision to refuse renewal of Bestjet’s ATAS accreditation.
In the second week of April, Justice Applegarth of the Supreme Court of Queensland refused an application by Bestjet for an interlocutory injunction to restrain AFTA from acting upon or publishing the fact of a decision made on 18 March 2016 to not renew Bestjet’s ATAS accreditation.
AFTA said Bestjet had not been able to satisfy it that it met the criteria of the ATAS Charter and specifically section 2.5 “Close Associate” and as such the ATAS accreditation had not been renewed.