Employee competition and confidentiality

Posted on February 20, 2014

Employee competition and confidentiality

Breach of Contract Solicitors High Wycombe

I can provide advice on the extent to which employers can protect themselves against the harmful competitive activities of employees and ex-employees and prevent the disclosure of trade secrets and confidential information by such employees.

This is a complex area of the law in which public policy plays a major role.  As a result it is wide open to legal dispute.

The starting position is that any term in a contract which purports to restrict an individual’s freedom to work for others or to follow his or her trade or business will be void and unenforceable by the courts unless it is reasonable by reference to the interests of the parties concerned and to the public interest.

During employment the balance of the public interest favours the employer and the implied duty of fidelity offers employers substantial protection against breaches of confidence and harmful competing activities on the part of the employees. Once employment has ended, however, the balance of public interest swings the other way in favour of the employee.  The employee is concerned to earn a living and to exercise his or her knowledge and skills to their maximum potential.  Nevertheless, the law acknowledges that the employer is entitled to continued protection for his trade secrets and to this extent the implied duty of fidelity survives the ending of the employment.

Express clauses restricting employees’ activities that operate after employment has ended – known as ‘restrictive covenants’ – are far more likely to offend against public policy.  Such restraints will be enforced if they are no wider than necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests.  Restrictive covenants aimed simply at restricting competition will, however, be struck down as an unreasonable restraint of trade.

Confidentiality agreement solicitor High Wycombe

When looking for a Confidentiality agreement solicitor, High Wycombe based Catherine Herries-Smith can be contacted on 01494 880705 or through the enquiry form.

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