Following a recent 5 day trial in the County Court at Chester, Michael Barrow successfully defended 2 former employees against all allegations who had had proceedings issued against them by their former employer for alleged breach of restrictive covenants, unlawful use of confidential information post termination of employment, inducement to breach contract and conspiracy to injure.
The case turned upon whether or not in fact the restrictive covenants had been incorporated into their respective contracts of employment and as to whether the information the former employer sought to protect was capable of protection after their respective employment had ceased.
Both contracts of employment had Entire Agreement clauses therein and were found to be valid to the effect that the restrictive covenants, which were contained in another separate and stand alone document, were not deemed to have been incorporated at the time of contract. Further, the confidential information that the employer sought to protect was not deemed confidential enough to be classed as anywhere near what could generically be classed as trade secrets, and even if it could, the judge found there to be no such unlawful use. The judge also found no conspiracy to injure nor any inducement to breach contract.
The lesson to be learned from the case from an employers’ perspective, is to ensure that there are clearly drafted restrictive covenants that are, ideally, incorporated into one single contract of employment. Also, that the confidential information that an employer seeks to protect post employment should be precisely and specifically defined and limited to that which is truly highly confidential to the employer, is not in any way in the public domain and can be genuinely defined, as far as possible, as a trade secret.