High-value dispute between executive and Nasdaq-listed solar power group
Hausfeld acted for Dr Philip Comberg in his successful High Court claim against his former employer, VivoPower International Services Limited, and its NASDAQ listed parent, VivoPower International PLC.
In January 2016, Dr Comberg began working for VivoPower as its CEO and later entered into a formal service agreement. He later sought payment of additional fee payments in respect of alleged oral contracts. As those payments were not forthcoming, this led to a breakdown in the relationship resulting ultimately in Dr Comberg’s departure from the business in September 2017.
After a period of pre-action engagement with VivoPower, in March 2018, Dr Comberg issued proceedings against VivoPower claiming constructive dismissal and breaches of contract in relation to unpaid fees exceeding £3 million. VivoPower denied any liability to Dr Comberg and issued a counterclaim alleged to be worth at least US$27 million based on allegations of misconduct.
The team assisted Dr Comberg in claiming under his Directors & Officers insurance policy in respect of the misconduct allegations with Dr Comberg settling the counterclaim by way of the insurers making a nominal (as against the pleaded counterclaim value) £100,000 offer, which was accepted by VivoPower in November 2018.
Dr Comberg’s claim, however, proceeded to trial in March 2020 with judgment being handed down in September 2020. Dr Comberg succeeded in his claims for unpaid salary, damages for repudiatory breach of his service agreement and damages for non-payment of his deferred remuneration under the oral deferred remuneration agreement.
Hausfeld succeeded in preserving Dr Comberg’s professional repudiation which had been called into doubt by the misconduct allegations which formed part of the counterclaim and were pursued by way of defence to the claim at trial. These unsubstantiated allegations were dismissed in their entirety by the trial Judge, who was highly critical of their “wide-ranging”, “diffuse” and “tactical” nature.