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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47907
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have left my previous employer to join a new company

Customer Question

Hello, I have left my previous employer to join a new company and have been advise that I have a non competition clause for 9 months which means I am not allowed to compete with them on any bids within a 30 mile radius of any of their branches. This clause will stop me from performing my new role. The clients they have in Scotland are minimal and do not have signed agreements in place. any customer will order the service on an adhoc basis. Is this legal what they are doing.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Do you have a copy of the restrictions please? I am in a meeting shortly, so may not be able to reply fully until early this afternoon, thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, I have attached the clauses from my contract so you can see it properly.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Are you going to be inducing past clients to do business with your new employer, or would these clients have potentially done business with them anyway, whether you worked there or not?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The clients will have potentially done business with them anyway as they are the 2 largest suppliers in Scotland for the services they provide. I understand not approaching their current clients under contract but anyone else who might have placed business on an adhoc basis would be to hard to steer clear as I would only find out after the event.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
It is quite unlikely that a general non-competition clause lie this one would be enforceable, or at least it would be rather difficult to enforce. Just because you are working for a company which is in competition with an ex-employer who you have restrictions with, does not mean that they will be able to enforce them against you. Restrictive covenants are there to protect a company’s legitimate business interests, such as the influence employees have over clients, the knowledge they have about the employer’s business practices or client base, etc. If you were simply working for a company which was going to do work with these clients anyway and they were not using your unique influence over them, then the ex-employer cannot really prevent you from doing that. You cannot be stopped from working for someone, even if they are in competition with past employers and this is only something which can become an issue if you were to use your influence and knowledge against them in the process. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on restrictive covenants, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. 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:{C}· Goodwill (including supplier and customer connections){C}· Trade secrets and confidential information{C}· 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. 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:{C}· 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.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Ben for the excellent service and covering my concerns. I will discuss with my new employer and if I need anything else I will be in contact.Regards
Davd
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
You are most welcome, all the best