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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I was released from my contract two weeks ago as a comment

Resolved Question:

I was released from my contract two weeks ago as a comment I made they didn't like. I was the operations director of that business and one of my restrictive covenants says that within the area of 50 miles being involved in any activity which competes with the company in any area I was involved in during my employment.
I have been offered a role with their competitor ( approx. 20 miles away) on another side of their business as head of training. This is not a role I did or was involved in with my previous company. I did the right thing and informed my previous company who have said they will come after me.
Where do I stand? I have to feed and home my children.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. can you tell me how long you were with the company please.

Customer:

6 months

Ben Jones :

Ok thank you leave it with me I need to look up a few things and then get my advice ready.I will post back on here when done there is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded.

Customer:

thanks

Customer:

The company are very nervous as I know to much about their dodgy dealings !

Customer:

I am being asked to rate you and I haven't had my answer ?

Ben Jones :

Thanks for your patience. Don’t worry about the emails, they are automatically sent so you can ignore them at present.

As to your situation, post-termination restrictive covenants are a rather common occurrence in employment relationships. An employer would want to protect their business from a departing employee's knowledge, business connections, influence over remaining staff, etc. However, a covenant that restricts an employee's post-termination activities will be automatically unenforceable for being in restraint of trade, unless the employer can show that it was there to protect a legitimate business interest and did so in a reasonable way.

Legitimate business interests (LBIs) are commonly accepted to include:



  • Goodwill (including supplier and customer connections)

  • Trade secrets and confidential information

  • Stability of the workforce


An employer cannot apply a restrictive covenant just to stop someone competing with their business, but it can seek to stop that person using or damaging their LBIs by using a reasonably drafted covenant.

Non-competition covenants prevent an employee from working with a competing business or setting up to work in competition with their ex-employer. Such general restrictions are seen as a restraint of trade and will be difficult to enforce. They will only be seen as reasonable if in the process of working in competition, the employee uses trade secrets or sensitive confidential information belonging to their ex-employer, or their influence over clients is so great that such a restriction is necessary. The length of the restriction and its geographical coverage will also be relevant.

Whilst restrictive covenants are mainly used as a scare tactic by employers, if an employee has acted in breach of a covenant and the employer is intent on pursuing the matter further they can do so. The following are potential outcomes if the employer takes legal action:



  • Obtain an interim injunction preventing the employee from doing certain things that would make them in breach of the restrictive covenant

  • Seek compensation for damages that have directly resulted from the breach of the covenants


As you can see there are no hard and fast rules on restrictive covenants. Whether a specific restriction is enforceable will always depend on the individual circumstances, the interest being protected and whether it has been reasonably drafted. The above principles are what the courts will consider when deciding whether a restriction is going to be legally enforceable. It should give you a good idea of what to look for in your situation and decide what the chances of this being pursued further are.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

Customer:

thank you

Ben Jones :

you are welcome

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