Members and their guests received a fascinating and extremely well-informed presentation from Joseph Sutton, solicitor specialising in employment law and principal of his law firm of the same name.
Joseph’s experience is particularly relevant as he has for many years advised participants in the insurance, financial, banking and shipping industry sectors. He advises across the full range of employment law and during his talk gave illustrations of the disputes and types of issue that can arise in the case of team moves, senior hires and boardroom departures, as well as an outline of the legal principles applying.
Members’ attention became fully engaged when Joseph explained that legally the point of departure is that a restrictive covenant in an employment contract is void. It will only be enforceable if the employer can establish that the covenant protects a legitimate business interest and is reasonable. The protection of client contacts, confidential information and the working stability of a business can be upheld as legitimate interests, but the objective of protecting against competition is not in itself a legitimate interest.
Joseph also explained that restrictions on working in a competitor business are rarely enforceable for longer than three months. The type of situation where it might be possible to justify a 12 month restriction could be the case of a very senior executive who has a full knowledge and overview of his previous firm’s business and operates in a market where renewals are annual.
Joseph finished by making various practical recommendations as to the evidence that might be traceable electronically, for example on the internet, when employees liaise together so as to co-ordinate a move as a team. It is not known whether any social media accounts were being hastily deleted later that night by honourable members of the Association.
Carter Perry Bailey LLP