Does an employee have knowledge of important information that could compromise your company's position if it gets into the wrong hands?
If so, it may be necessary to take out an injunction to prevent them from using the information against you. As an employer, you always need to bear in mind that you may need to act quickly with an injunction to ensure that a rogue employee does not breach the terms of their employment contract after they leave your company.
Here at First4lawyers, our business solicitors have experience of all the relevant steps you can take to protect your business interests. Please contact us to start helping protect your company.
What is an injunction?
An injunction is an order issued by a court that you can use to oblige someone to do or stop doing something. For businesses this usually means controlling what an ex-employee can or cannot do.
What are the reasons that I may seek an injunction against an employee?
As an employer, you may wish to pursue an injunction in order to stop an ex-employee from doing one or more of the following:
- Setting up or working for a competing business.
- Soliciting or dealing with your clients.
- Poaching your employees.
- Retaining confidential information or documents illegally.
- Disclosing or using confidential information relating to your business.
Business contacts, confidential information and collective knowledge may represent key assets for your business. Terms in employment contracts called restrictive covenants usually prevent employees from using or sharing such information to compete unfairly with your company once they leave.
However, if the employee in question threatens to breach – or actually breaches – their post-termination restrictions, seeking an injunction could give you an effective way to curb any unfair loss of business.
Are injunctions enforceable?
Yes. In fact, breaching an injunction may amount to contempt of court, which can involve serious punishment. Injunctions are therefore a powerful deterrent, discouraging an employee from ever breaching their post-termination restrictions.
To get an injunction against an employee, the relevant restrictive covenants must be stated expressly within their employment contract. The court will generally consider such post-termination restrictions to be void unless they are no wider in scope than is necessary and provide fair protection to legitimate business interests.
The court could deem legitimate business interests as one or more of the following:
- Confidential information and trade secrets.
- Customer connections and the stability of your work force.
This all illustrates how important it is to give careful consideration to restrictive covenants when drafting employment contracts, and why consulting with experienced solicitors can be especially valuable.
What does the injunction procedure involve?
The procedure for gaining an injunction is split into two stages:
- Initial hearing – The court will consider whether to grant an interim injunction. This is in effect a ‘holding measure’ to restrain the respondent (ex-employee) from using the information in question until the full hearing.
- Full hearing – The court will hear all evidence from both the claimant (you, the employer) and the respondent.
The court may make the interim injunction final. In practice, injunction cases rarely reach the full hearing stage. Usually, the parties involved will settle matters beforehand.
I want to bring out an injunction – what should I do?
If you want to bring an injunction against a former employee, First4lawyers’ employment law and business solicitors can offer all the advice you need to enforce restrictive terms in an employment contract.
We can also help you with restrictive covenants for future contracts in order to increase the likelihood that the court will grant you injunctions so you can protect your business, if and when you need to.
For straight-forward, professional legal advice, please contact First4lawyers.