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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50191
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Hi, I work on a temporary basis for a music service and the

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Hi, I work on a temporary basis for a music service and the school they placed me in, via a recruitment agency, are not pleased with the service they have received overall so they wish ditch the service and to employ me on a freelance basis. I wish to do this work but 20 months ago I signed an agreement to say that I would not work with pupils/the school in a freelance capacity doing any similar work to what I have undertaken, for a period of 6 months beyond the end of my placement. Nowhere in that agreement does is state what action would be taken if I were to ignore this.

Can you advise if the agreement is legally binding and therefore I cannot undertake a new contract directly with the school? Music teaching is part of my main income. Thanks.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. If you were to work with them how would that affect the service you were employed by?

Customer: They have told me via email on asking yesterday that it effects their income and their ability to offer other services at reduced rates.
Ben Jones :

But is that still true if the school is actually terminating their services?

Customer: I cannot see how as if the school no longer wish use the music service, that is their issue with them. But if they wish to em
Customer: But if they wish to employ me directly that is a contract between me and the school. A friend has mentioned the term "restrictive practices". I don't quite understand this, but given the agreement does not state what would happen if I ignored the 6 month halt, can they hold me to it and what could they actually do? I know they would not offer me more work but I'm not bothered about that.
Customer: Hello?
Ben Jones :

still here

Customer: Ah...basically the music service say that by me going directly to the school, and other like me doing similar, it reduces their overall income which effects their services across the region they operate in.
Ben Jones :

Whilst that may be true they will have to justify it. That would be difficult if the school was planning on stopping using them overall due to the quality of their service. If they were not going to continue their relationship then you going to work directly with them will not really affect their business and such a restriction would be seen as unreasonable and difficult to enforce. Had you gone behind their back and worked directly with the school, thus prompting the school to stop working with them and therefore losing them business they would have been in a stronger position, however if the decision to stop working with them was already taken and they are happy to retain your services directly, then restrictions like this one would be difficult to enforce and the courts would not see it as a reasonable attempt to protect their business.

Customer: How could they enforce it anyway if they don't actually say what enforcing it actually looks like? There is no mention of fines etc on the agreement. The school told me they had decided to stop working with them, and had written a stern letter to the music service saying they were not happy I believe several months ago. Only at that point did they ask if I could work on a freelance basis with them. I did mention to them I thought there was a restriction, which there was, but I'm checking as I am not sure if it is an enforceable one.
Ben Jones :

well enforcement in this case would be preventing you from working there but unless they get a court injunction ordering that there is little they can do. The other thing is they can pursue you for any losses incurred from your actions.

Customer: So, if the school had decided not to work with the service prior a while ago and could prove that, there would be no loss of income anyway as the music service would not have been getting any?
Customer: The school can em
Customer: sorry...trigger finger! The school can e
Customer: The school can employ whoever they like really. They do not have to settle for the music service if they don't want to.
Customer: Is an injunction and going for loss of earnings likely in this case? I'm a lone operator in one school?!?!?
Ben Jones :

it is rather unlikely either an injunction or loss of earnings would be foreseeable here - they can only pursue you if actual losses have been suffered from this but in the circumstances that looks quite unlikely

Ben Jones :

I just need to go offline for a short period but will happily answer any further questions as soon as I return, thanks

Customer: I have just had a conversation either the business manager from the school and they are willing to wait the 6 months for me, so that may put pay to all the issues. Would you advise that I would be safer to start work after the 6 months gap or just ignore it and hope for the best? Shall I ask the music service if they intend to hold me to the agreement and how they might enforce it??
Ben Jones :

Thanks for your patience. Once the 6 months is up then there is nothing else they can do against you - it puts an end to any restrictions they may have potentially been able to enforce. So this is the safest option but up to you whether you want to wait that long. There is probably nothing to lose by asking them whether they intend to hold it against you as they could just say yes, even if they do not mean to, in the hope you do not go ahead with it, but then they could also say they are not concerned about it and you can do what you want

Customer: Thank you.
Ben Jones :

you are welcome

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