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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Dear Sir / Madam, I recently had an interim injunction taken

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Dear Sir / Madam, I recently had an interim injunction taken out against me by my former employer for breach of contract after I started working with a previous client whilst still in my 1 year restrictive covenence clause. The order has since been amended so that I can continue to work with the client as it was proven that there 'was no relationship for them to protect' however, becuase I admitted openly that I had contravened my covenence, at a recent hearing (not the final one) the judge agreed with their barrister that I should pay their costs to date (£125k!) A final 2 day hearing is scheduled for mid April 2015. They are seeking compensation for alleged loss of business and have changed their claim from loss of business to seeking 'any gains I have made from my new business (I am a sole trader working just with this one client) At the recent hearing they requested an interim payment of £2000 towards costs, I do not have this money just yet and it is due today! My first question is; will the hearing still go ahead if I can't pay this? I will have to claim bankruptcy as I have no finances or equity/assets to pay the costs to date and they anticipate that the total costs including the trial will excess £200k. I have told them on a number of occassions I have no financial means to pay this but they continue forward and won't enter any 'out of court' settlement (I offered my first years Net Profit or £70k whichever was the greater) I want to ensure that I reach trial so that I can put my case across that they suffered no losses as the client refused to work with them even whilst I was still serving my notice (they closed my operation down) so, will the trial still go ahead in your opinion? Can they ask that a decision / award is made without the trial as I have no funds currently to pay the £2000? And, what will happen from a legal perspective because I can't pay it? Please can you help? Kind regards, ***** ***** - PS - I am representing myself as I cannot afford legal costs
Alex Watts : Hello Jane my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : For now please let me know whether costs have been assessed?
Alex Watts : Did they write and ask you to stop or was the injunction the first you knew about this?

The injunction was served on me by suprise. They went to the high court at a private emergency hearing and served the papers to me later that day. The costs have not been assessed other than they wrote to me outlining the costs and stating that if I did not agree that a 'costs judge' would assess resulting in further costs that I would have to pay.

Alex Watts : Did they ever write to you and ask you to stop?
Alex Watts : Are you a high level executive or anything?

No never. I was a director of the business. It was only a small operation, they closed after just one year after I refused to but the business off them for a £1.... long story but I was left to be unemployed with a client that had just appointed me as a preferred supplier after a 6 year relationship with them (I brought the client to their business) The client was disgusted at what had happened and even though I tried to arrange meetings between them all to establish a relationship my client refused. They asked me to keep in touch with them and let them know what I was going to do next. I decided to take the risk of setting up on my own to continue to work with them. I had a client that only wanted to work with me, has just gone through an extensive tender process and despatched of many other suppliers and no job..... I knew I shouldnt have done but never expected it to get this bad. In 24 years in recruitment I have never seen anything so aggressive.

Alex Watts : What was their turnover and profit?

The turnover was approx £230k and the profit was a loss of approx 50k. This was a start business and year 1 of trading. The client that is the 'issue' with them was £120k of that turnover. I did not want the business to close.... it was their decision because I would not buy it and take on the set up debt and the ongoing cost liability. I didn't have the money to 'bank roll' it.

Alex Watts : Did you approach the client or did the client approach you?

The client asked that I contact them again once I knew what I was doing next which I did once I decided to just work for myself. They were delighted and appointed me to the PSL immediately. They sent a memo to all of their business letting them know and also that they were to no longer work with my past employer. This was not asked by me. The HR Director had already decided this previously and testament to this was the few months prior when she refused to meet with them to establish any relationship.


I also have a letter that I have to sign today agreeing that I confirm I will pay the costs to date (£124k) I am guessing I have to sign this as I did not dispute their costs? How could I dispute them? I know nothing about what legal costs should be although I doubt they would have been incorrect or inflated. I guess my only comment would be that the balance of money they have spent in legal costs hardly seems 'balanced' compared to the value of revenue to be had from the client. I have invoiced £64K with the client this year....... they have spent double that already on they costs and anticipate £200k+! Bizarre, and I have to say, this all feels incredibly vindictive and that I am just being victimised for daring to have done what I have done...... hardly seems fair justice to me. Sorry to ramble but I find it hard to understand how they feel this is a commercial approach.

Alex Watts : Ok. I would dipsute the costs they are excessive.
Alex Watts : you can agree to the injunction but contest costs.
Alex Watts : If you do not pay the £2000 it does not stop the trial, this still goes ahead.
Alex Watts : If you can't pay they can try and enforce it, ie bailiffs etc.
Alex Watts : But you could make yourself bankrupt and would be discharged after 12 months.
Alex Watts : But you can contest the costs.
Alex Watts : can I claorfy anything for you about this today please?

I have already sent an email stating I did not dispute the costs as I didn't want more costs being added. I have yet though not signed signed the Final Costs Certificate (rule 47.10) Can I do a U turn at this point? How do I justify they are excessive, I have absolutely no knowledge of what is reasonable or not? Is it in your opinion excessive compared to the value of client revenue?

Alex Watts : Yes you can dipsute the costs, they seem very excessive indeed
Alex Watts : Does that help?

So, even though I have agreed in an email to them, am I still ok to dispute at this stage because I haven't signed the final cost certificate?

Alex Watts : yes,

Do you consider excessive because of the value of the client financially or because it just seems like a lot of money? They have given a detailed list of costs to date and I don't know how easy it would be to dispute this having no knowledge of what legal costs should be. Even if they were halved, I still wouldn't have the means to pay them.

Alex Watts : Yes £125k to pay is extortionate

I can't even pay halve that so is there any point in disputing the costs?

Alex Watts : well I would. Their conduct by just issuing without a warning
Alex Watts : or you can noT contest and Just go bankrupt

With regards ***** ***** £2000, my intention is to try and get more time to pay although I thought bailiffs could only be brought in for a civil debt? If it buys me more time, maybe I should pay this and then they can chase the £120,000. They've given a detailed breakdown of costs incurred but these include preparing for the injunction without a warning. However, I'm going to struggle to dispute them without legal help which I can't afford.

Alex Watts : Yes this is a civil debt, it is a court order so they can enforce it
Alex Watts : As I said you can dispute the costs.

So if I dispute the costs, it negates the need to pay the £2000? The judge did order at the last hearing that I pay it so presumably I do?

Alex Watts : No you still need to pay the £2000 but you can't be sent to prison or anything if you don't

ok thanks. I think I need to write to them saying that I now intend to dispute the costs and also try and make them understand that I don't have the means to pay them because I don't have an assets (negative equity etc.)

Alex Watts : Indeed.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything else for you?

No, thats great thank you

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