Employee competition and confidentiality

Blake Morgan's Employee Competition and Confidentiality team combines the specialist knowledge of our Employment and Dispute Resolution teams to bring you a seamless service in protecting your organisation's knowledge and people assets. Highly regarded for its sound commercial and legal advice, with an established reputation for successful outcomes, the team is also able to call upon our Intellectual Property and Data Protection specialists where appropriate.   

Our specialist lawyers know how important your customers and employees are and how to protect them as far as possible. 

The Blake Morgan Employee Competition and Confidentiality Team has expertise throughout the employment cycle and a successful track record of settling and winning disputes involving breaches of restrictive covenants and confidentiality including:

  • Advising on recruitment and effective contracts/service agreements and supporting documentation;
  • Ensuring your business is protected when key employees resign or are dismissed;
  • Advising on garden leave options;
  • Enforcing post-termination restrictive covenants and obtaining injunctions;
  • Protecting confidential information and databases including data protection and social media issues;
  • Protecting intellectual property; and
  • Advising on the fiduciary duties of office holders.

New employment contracts

It is an integral part of our service that our specialist team can advise you on measures to protect your business if you are taking on employees, or teams of employees, from a competitor.

When it comes to protecting your knowledge and people assets, our specialist team is at hand to ensure your employment contracts and service agreements are properly drafted and tailored to:  

  • Include appropriate restrictive covenants;
  • Protect confidential information and intellectual property rights; and
  • Provide appropriate safeguards on the departure of employees.

Existing employees

We can advise on the enforceability of existing contractual provisions and review contractual arrangements when employees are promoted, move jobs or the organisation undergoes change, to ensure the contracts remain fit for purpose. If amendments are required we will suggest these to you. This is an important step in preventing harm by an unauthorised disclosure of your confidential information.

Should an unforeseen situation arise which is a risk to your business, whether this is a former employee leaving the business to join a competitor, or an employee posting information on social media, we can advise on the best strategy to minimise the impact on your organisation.

Departing employees

We know the importance of protecting your business assets and preventing key knowledge and key people being hijacked by the unlawful conduct of departing employees and competitors, and the loss of key customers. If it becomes clear that an employee poses a competitive threat or is acting in breach of his/her obligations (perhaps enticing away customers/staff to a competing business or taking valuable customer information), our specialist team can act swiftly to enforce your organisation's rights to the fullest extent necessary. This may include analysing evidence of wrongdoing, writing to the employee, and possibly future employer, setting out the relevant causes of action to seek an undertaking that the terms of the contract will not be breached, and if required, making appropriate applications to the High Court for injunctive relief.  

Clients

The team acts for a diverse range of clients that include corporations, private limited companies, owner managed businesses, charities and the public sector. We have particular experience in the retail, healthcare, construction, education, recruitment, IT and charity sectors.

This team is part of our wider Employment and Dispute Resolution teams which have extensive experience of negotiating all types of settlements on behalf of employers in all sectors across the country, with a well-deserved reputation for delivering cost-effective commercial advice which secures our clients' requirements.

 Significant experience

Notable examples of the Employee Competition and Confidentiality team's recent successes include:

  • Acting for a large leading software services provider pursuing a former senior employee for joining a competitor in order to prevent loss of our client's confidential information. An interim injunction was obtained preventing the employee working for the competitor for several months pending a speedy trial. The case was later settled with a very satisfactory outcome for the company.  
  • Acting at first instance and in the Court of Appeal in relation to a dispute between two suppliers following the termination of a sub-contract. The case related to the  use of confidential information by the sub-contractor, following termination, to contact and procure customers directly. Relief was gained on an interlocutory and final basis (following a speedy trial) which including an injunction providing springboard relief, which was successfully upheld in the Court of Appeal (Personnel Hygiene Services Limited –v- Rentokil Initial UK Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 29)
  • Obtaining urgent "without notice" relief on behalf of a global aviation consultancy against a former employee suspected of downloading and utilising valuable intellectual property (in the form of a database) and confidential information. The novel form of "without notice" relief granted including an order preventing him accessing his mobile, laptop and e-mail accounts until they had been searched by an independent forensic expert.
  • Acting on behalf of a national services company against a main competitor following the "poaching" of a sales manager. An injunction on a "without notice" basis was obtained against the manager and the company after covertly obtained evidence revealed that the employee had stolen a customer database which he planned on targeting through his new employment. The case was settled on confidential terms following the granting of the "without notice" injunction.
  • Enforcement of post termination restrictive covenants, along with contractual, equitable and fiduciary obligations of a senior employee accused of wrongfully downloading the employer's confidential information before his intended move to a direct competitor.
  • Urgently securing an undertaking not to use confidential information, a payment of damages for breach of contract and delivery up of databases from a former employee who left to join a direct competitor.
  • Reaching an agreement with three former senior employees of a construction company in respect of their future dealings with customers, suppliers and staff in order to protect the business to include a payment for damages to our client.

Other expertise

Our teams of specialist employment lawyers and commercial litigators work together with an integrated approach to ensure you receive a first rate service in any circumstance. The scope of our work includes advising on the situation and prospects of succeeding in your dispute through to issuing and defending proceedings in the High Court as necessary.

Related expertise

Main contacts

Related Knowledge & Resources

Secret injunction - Dyson Technology Ltd v Pellerey

News

The ever-growing importance of precise use and drafting of terms to protect confidential information, and how this can assist in circumstances where an employee is moving to a competing business, has been emphasised in a Court of Appeal case.

Costs following an injunction

News

Costs in Injunction Applications - Are Claimants entitled to significant costs if they secure only modest damages? This issue was explored in the recent High Court case of Marcura Equities FZE & Anor v Nisomar Ventures Ltd & Anor [2018] EWHC 523 (QB).

Breach of Confidence Good Faith and the Database Right

News

Health and Case Management Ltd v Physiotherapy Network Ltd [2018] provides some much needed clarity and guidance on the law on breach of confidence, contractual obligations to act in ‘good faith’, and the practical application of the EU Database Rights.

How to protect against misuse of commercially-sensitive information

Protecting trade secrets and confidential information is crucial and what steps can employers take to prevent staff from misusing commercially-sensitive information?

Non-compete clause unenforceable as it included a restriction on holding a minor shareholding in a competing business

Restrictive covenants are a useful tool for employers to protect their competitive edge and to reduce the risk of 'star employees' leaving to join competitors.However, failure to draft them carefully can leave both employer and employee in limbo.

Severe penalty for employee in breach of injunctive order

OCS Group UK Ltd v Dadi & Ors [2017] EWHC 1727 (Ch) (06 July 2017)