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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48208
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My contact with my employer has a non compete clause;

Customer Question

Hi,
My contact with my employer has a non compete clause; its left very broad, I need to know what is meant by
"any services (including but not limited to technical and product supports, advice and customer services) supplied by the employer and with which the duties of the Employee were materially concerned or for which he or she was responsible during the relevant period, or any services of the same type or materially similar to those services"
My duties at this employer involved building software for schools, so does this mean I cannot do similar work for another employer for the duration of the non compete clause?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long is the restriction for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi ben,

12 months.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
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, such as the one you have, 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 broader the restriction, the less likely it would be enforceable and in this case a blanket restriction on providing the work you rely on to earn a living will unlikely be enforceable. 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{C}· 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. I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

HI Ben, Thanks for your answer

In my previous job I developed MIS software for schools; does this clause in my contact mean I may not work for a competing developer of MIS software for schools, and would this legally hold?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
No it does not, that would likely be too restrictive. But for example, if there was a specific code you used at the request of that previous school and you wanted to use it in a new job, it may be restrictive in that respect. But simply getting a job in the field with someone else is unlikely to be enforceable. Hope this clarifies
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** to clarify, if I work for a company doing similar things to the previous one, even if it is a competitor, UK Law does not allow for a non compete clause to restrict me from taking this position?

However, it does mean that I cannot take code from my previous employer, or data belonging to them, with me to the new position?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Yes that is correct. Simply stopping you from working for a competitor without you affecting the old employer in some way like you mentioned cannot really be enforced.