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taratill, Solicitor
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6464
Experience:  15 years experience of advising on employment law matters
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I am the owner of a small company. An employee resigned from

Customer Question

I am the owner of a small company. An employee resigned from our company last year and said he was going travelling, we found out today he has copied our company and set up a very similar company to compete against us. We have since discovered that shortly before leaving he emailed all our client data to his personal email account, we assume this was done intentionally to sell to our clients with his new company. We have also been told by other staff that he was witnessed taking a harddrive home over night which contained company data.

In addition t breach of intellectual copyright we believe he has broken our employment contract for two reasons 1) The contract states he can not remove company data or property without our permission. 2) The contract states that he can not set up or work for a company that competes against us for 6 months after leaving the company.

Our desire now is to have his company closed down.

We have 2 questions for you: 1) Is there the possibility that we can take legal action to force him to close his company (if not then what could legal action achieve against him)? 2)Is the theft of company data also a criminal offence, or is it just a breach of contract?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  taratill replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome to Just Answer, is the employee now UK based and can you demonstrate that your company has suffered a financial loss as a result of this?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes the employee is UK based.


We can demonstrate we have experienced a loss as he has only just started trading. However if he continues trading we will almost certainly suffer a loss. We are therefore keen to shut him down before he continues trading

Expert:  taratill replied 5 years ago.
was his contract subject to any post termination restrictions?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

His contract said that for 6 months after leaving the company he cant compete against us in the same industry (the conference industry) and cant work for a competitor.


He left the company 3 months ago and his company hasn't started taking money yet but it has been registered and has started promoting itself


Expert:  taratill replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. You asked whether this is a criminal matter. If he physically removed company property then potentially it could amount to theft, however if you do contact the police they are likely to say that it is a civil matter which is best dealt with in the civil courts.

He is clearly in breach of contract and you have right to take action against him. You cannot forceably close the company however you can take steps to prevent him from taking business away from you in breach of contract.

As he has not yet started operating the correct approach would be to write to him to ask him to return company property, to remind him of his contractual obligations and to ask him to give a written undertaking that he will not do anything in breach of contract. If he gives an undertaking he will be in contempt of court if he then goes on to do so.

If he refuses to do so then you could apply for an injunction to prevent him from breaching his contract. Finally if he does go ahead and you lose you could sue him for loss.

Given the risk to your company I would suggest that you visit a local soilcitor with a litigaton department to ask for support. It is likely that he will take more notice of a letter on solicitor headed paper than if you send it yourself. You would certainly need support if it got to the stages of going to court.

All the best with this.

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