Protecting business interests (clients, suppliers and data) is essential to running a successful business. Many of our clients, both employers and employees, work in highly competitive, sales driven industries, such as recruitment and real estate. One major risk to such business owners is when an employee leaves to then immediately set up a competing business or joins a direct competitor, as they have the potential to take valuable client relationships with them. Restrictive covenants within employment contracts can prevent, or at the very least deter, against this risk. Theft of valuable data can be the subject of enforcement action by an employer even where there are no restrictive covenants and even if there is no contract at all.

From the employee perspective these covenants must be reasonable in time and geography; they must be bespoke to the role and limited only to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer.

In any dispute of this nature it is vital to act swiftly in seeking help from the courts. The courts can order an emergency injunction preventing further unlawful competition, damages for any losses caused, and even a search of the Defendant’s home, workplace, or computers.

If you are a business you need to act quickly. Even a short delay in contacting the employee or making a court application could prejudice your case. As an employee, if you think your previous employer is enforcing unreasonable restrictions you should always seek legal advice. If the employer has issued injunctive court proceedings against you, urgent advice will be needed as you are likely to have to lodge a response to the court application within a matter of days.

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