Olympian wins court battle against rival

Olympian Samantha Riley's swimming school has won a court battle against a business rival.
Olympian Samantha Riley's swimming school has won a court battle against a business rival.

Australian swimming great Samantha Riley has won a court battle against a business rival suing her swim school company for allegedly poaching clients and customers.

The three-time Olympic medallist's company Sam Riley Swim Schools (SRSS) has defended itself against claims it breached a contract with the new owner of her swim school in Capalaba, east of Brisbane.

She successfully counter-sued experienced swim coach Alex Brown for $60,000 in Brisbane Supreme Court.

Mr Brown, who took over the school in 2014, alleged SRSS encouraged his customers to join Ms Riley's school in nearby Manly against the contract.

Mr Brown also claimed he and his staff were not provided with training to teach the "Sam Riley program" that SRSS promised as part of the deal.

He claimed as a result of that, plus the school's manager quitting to then work with SRSS in Manly, his business went bust after falling from 500 to 30 customers.

But after a trial, Justice David Boddice rejected Mr Brown's case on the grounds those factors were not to blame for the failure of his business, rebranded as Capalaba Swim Stars.

While it was true no training was provided, it was not because of a failure to offer, rather to a lengthy period Mr Brown had spent in hospital soon after taking over the business, Justice Boddice found.

He also ruled the poaching of customers was not malicious but to ensure those "who had prepaid lessons would receive value for those payments."

"There was good reason for the defendant to undertake that course of action. It was in its interests to ensure customers received value," Justice Boddice said.

The judge also ruled Mr Brown's failure to pay staff contributed to the manager leaving his company to go to SRSS, her former employer.

Outside court, Ms Riley, a breaststroke world champion who won medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, would not comment on the judgment.

As well as being counter-sued, Mr Brown faces paying legal costs.

Australian Associated Press