Summer 2006 Newsletter


Brave New World

Business Not Pleasure

Summertime Blues

All That Glitters...

Casting The Net

Trust Gordon?

It Ain't Over...

One In The Eye

Keep Your Nose Clean

Foreign Affairs

When Is A Car...

Don't Walk Away

Avoiding, The Issue

Brown Is Anti-PC

VAT's Up Doc?

Fuel's Gold

An Age-old Question?

That's Unfair!

Year In Year Out

How Hard To Try?

It's A Rip-Off!

Outlaws Win

Show Some Restraint

Not Our Problem

They Cannot Be Serious?


Pension Disappointments

Show Some Restraint

The people closest to you can hurt you more than anyone - and that goes for your employees. They know your business secrets, your customers, your plans - all that information would be very valuable to a competitor. So it's important to make it clear to employees that they are not allowed to tell anyone confidential information that they obtain while you employ them, and they can't use that information for their own benefit or anyone else's. But how far can you take that with an ex-employee?

It's common for employment contracts to have some sort of restriction on workers who leave - for example, they are forbidden to work for a competitor for a period afterwards. The problem is that such a "restraint of trade" may not be enforceable at law. A long history of cases and statutes tells us that the restriction has to be "reasonable", or it will be ignored by the court. For example, it's unreasonable to make it impossible for the person to earn a living after they have left you - you can't make the restriction too wide or make it last for too long.

A recent case involved a man who left Dyson, the makers of the famous vacuum cleaner. His contract prohibited employment with a competitor for 12 months afterwards. He went to work for Black & Decker, which mainly makes tools but has a small vacuum cleaner business. Dyson asked the High Court for an injunction to enforce his contract, and this was granted. Even though Black & Decker were not as big a player in the business as Dyson, they were a competitor, and the restriction was not unreasonable.

It's important to know what you are signing, if you are the employee - and what you can enforce, if you are the employer.