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Employment litigation, restrictive covenants, court and tribunal litigation

Employment litigation, restrictive covenants, court and tribunal litigation

You have been headhunted to work for a competitor. There are several pages in your service agreement concerned with restrictions on working for your competitors, dealing with customers and offering jobs to members of your old team. You may be considering the following:

Can I work for a competitor and take my team and clients?

I have received a threatening letter from my company’s solicitors.

Where does this leave me?

Could I end up in court if I work for a competitor?

Many employee service agreements contain these restrictive covenants. Courts will not enforce them unless they are reasonable and no wider than necessary to protect against unfair competition. Courts will scrutinise them very carefully because they have the effect of restricting individual rights to work freely within the labour market. However, it can be a mistake to treat them too lightly. The issues can be very complicated.

Court proceedings can also be risky and very expensive. For these reasons it is relatively rare for cases to get to court but, where they do, the stakes can be high, balancing the livelihood of an individual against the protection of a company’s business. It is vital that you take legal advice as soon as you think that your activities might conflict with the restrictions.

It is worth taking advice on restrictive covenants at the time you enter into the service agreement. Unfortunately, many people do not but it is usually easier to negotiate less restrictive terms at the start of the employment relationship than when you are thinking of leaving and working for a competitor.

For further guidance on all matters related to employment litigation please contact us on 0870 421 1952.

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