What are Restrictive Covenants/ enforceable?

25th October 2011
What are Restrictive Covenants/ enforceable? image

What are Restrictive Covenants and are they Enforc

What are Restrictive Covenants?

Businesses often include post-termination obligations into an employee’s contract of employment, whereby an employee agrees not to do certain things after he or she leaves the business.  These are called Restrictive Covenants.  There are broadly speaking four types of Restrictive Covenants:-

  1. Non-competition clauses

These seek to prevent the ex-employee from working for a competitor or a directly competing business, usually within a specific geographical area for a set period following the termination of employment. 

  1. Non-solicitation clauses

These bar the ex-employee from soliciting clients, or potential clients, for a set period following the termination of employment. 

  1. Non-poaching of employees clauses

These prevent an ex-employee from recruiting former colleagues for a set period following termination of employment.

  1. Confidential information clauses

These prohibit the use of any confidential information (e.g. trade secrets, customer details etc) acquired by an employee during his or her employment. 

Are they Enforceable?

The starting point is that all of these clauses are anti-competition and in restraint of trade, and therefore void.  If an employee challenges the validity of such clause, the employer must prove that the clause is justifiable.  To do this the employer must show that the clause does no more than is reasonable to protect his legitimate business interests. 

What is “reasonable” and what is “a legitimate business interest” are complex questions and the answers shall vary from case to case. 

For example a claim which prevents an employee from working for a competitor for a period of 12 months anywhere within the United Kingdom may be enforceable against a national sales director but is unlikely to be enforceable against a hairdresser who only deals with clients from the immediate locality.

Another example may relate to a clause prohibiting the solicitation of clients.  If the ex-employee had introduced the client originally to the business, it is unlikely that a clause prohibiting the solicitation of such clients by the ex-employee could be enforceable. 

In short some times they are enforceable and some times they are not, legal advice is always necessary on such matters especially with regards to the drafting of such clauses.

Maples advise that generally speaking in appropriate cases Restrictive Covenants should be included in an employee’s contract of employment.  Even if the clause is not enforceable, the Restrictive Covenant may give some protection to your business as it provides leverage in negotiating a settlement with an ex-employee or for persuading the ex-employee not to attempt to solicit clients etc since the ex-employee may not want to take the risk on a high cost legal action. 

If you require advice on Restrictive Covenants then please contact Daven Naghen on 01775 722261, daven.naghen@maplessolicitors.com or at 23 New Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE11 1DH or Gemma Mayer on 01775 722261, gemma.mayer@maplessolicitors.com or at 23 New Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE11 1DH.  

Dementia Friends image

Dementia Friends

Maples Solicitors are proud to announce that they have now joined to become Dementia Friends which is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative.

The private client department of Maples Solicitors prepare Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney on a regular basis and this often involves dealing with clients who are suffering from dementia. The private client team pride themselves on spending as much time as is necessary to assist all of their clients, but those suffering from dementia often require additional assistance and time to ensure that they have fully understood the legal documentation that they are creating. The private client department are regularly complimented on the way they deal with such clients, whether this be explaining things to them in a clear and uncomplicated manner, spending time with them or putting them at ease.

It is a misconception that anyone suffering from dementia cannot make a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney. Only if someone lacks sufficient mental capacity are they unable to make such a document. It is therefore vitally important upon any diagnosis of dementia that legal advice is taken as soon as possible to make sure that your affairs are in order so that it is easier for your family to deal with your affairs if you are unable to do so yourself.

To become Dementia Friends, Maples Solicitors have pledged to develop their understanding of dementia and continue assisting clients suffering from dementia with their legal affairs in a respectful, friendly and efficient way that is not daunting making the process as easy as possible.

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Jamie Dobbs GCILEx

Over the last forty years I have cause to deal with many law firms both in a personal and professional capacity, including some ‘top’ London Companies. In all of those dealings I have never found anyone as proactive and so willing to offer help and advice as Jamie Dobbs. During the last two years Jamie guided my parents through the completion of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Helped myself with the use of the LPA and recently dealing with Probate and Estate Administration following their death.

Mike Pepper MA

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Donna has been helpful and professional every step of the way during the process. Always on hand to answer any queries and totally professional and friendly at all times.