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Employment law advice involving restrictive covenants

Used to prevent former employees doing things like joining a competitor, we know how frustrating restrictive covenant issues can be when you’re looking to move forward with your career.

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If you've ended a working relationship that was subject to restrictive covenants in your contract of employment, First4Lawyers will look at helping you, whether you’re accused of breaching one of these restrictions or you want to challenge one.

What are restrictive covenants?

Restrictive covenants are written into contracts to protect the interests of an employer in the event of the contracted employee leaving the business.

For example, a restrictive covenant might prevent you from leaving a particular job and going to work for one of that company’s direct competitors, or it might stop you from setting up a competing business in the same sector or even geographical area as your employer.

Restrictive covenants are also enforced to prevent you from leaving a job and having contact with clients or customers that you built relationships with in your previous role, and from poaching your former colleagues to come and join you in your new venture.

How enforceable are restrictive covenants?

The details of your particular circumstances will hold the answer to this question, which makes it all the more important to get sound legal advice. If your employment has been terminated, it could be that a restrictive covenants is void.

However, if the restrictive covenants protect a legitimate business interest held by your former employer, they may well be enforceable.

When considering whether restrictive covenants are valid, the court will seek to assess how obstructive they are to you, the employee.

A restrictive covenant that prevents you from continuing your work in the field of your experience is unlikely to be upheld, but if the covenant is judged to protect your former employer without unreasonably restricting you, then it may be enforced.

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What are the penalties for breaching restrictive covenants?

Restrictive covenant cases can be heard in the High Court, and if you are judged to have breached one the court could impose an injunction upon you rather than award damages to your former employer.

However, if your former employer can demonstrate a significant loss as a result of the breach then damages may be awarded, but it is possible your ex-employer will seek an interim injunction to resolve the issue and save the expense of a full trial.

I have been accused of breaching restrictive covenants – what should I do?

This complex area of the law is difficult to navigate unless you have an experienced legal professional at your disposal.

You should seek the help of an experienced solicitor because it is vital that you fully understand the way the law will view your circumstance before making any decisions about what could prove to be expensive legal action to resolve a breach.

Contact us if you have any questions. Perhaps you want to look into legal action, or you would like to know about one of our team defending you in court.

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