Fishing company prevents former employee working for rival

A fishing company has been granted an interim injunction enforcing post-termination restrictive covenants and a confidentiality clause against a former employee.

The case involved S Riddler Ltd and Mr Wierzbicki.

The High Court heard that Wierzbicki had begun working for Riddler in November 2018 as a group head of technical. His employment contract contained a non-competition clause which sought to protect the company's legitimate interests and required him to refrain from becoming involved in any capacity with competitors in the 12 months after the contract's termination.

The contract named certain companies which the clause specifically sought to restrain him from working for in that period and restricted him from carrying out any business in which he had been involved in the 12 months preceding termination.

Wierzbicki resigned in August 2021 with immediate effect and the following day he began to work for one of the named companies.

He offered undertakings in respect of confidentiality and accepted that the restrictive covenants sought to protect Riddler’s legitimate interests but submitted that the clause was so wide as to be unenforceable and noted that the company had waited several weeks before seeking an injunction.

The court found in favour of Riddler.

It said that it appeared to be beyond dispute that Wierzbicki had breached a restrictive covenant by going to work for a competitor the day after he had left Riddler.

The issue was whether the clause was enforceable, and its construction was therefore a serious issue to be tried. Damages would not be an adequate remedy for Riddler as losses would be impossible to quantify and it would be difficult to establish what its customers would have done and when but for the Wierzbicki 's breach.

The losses were said to potentially reach millions of pounds. If the injunction was granted and the Wierzbicki succeeded at trial, his losses would be readily quantifiable, he could be adequately compensated, and the company would be able to meet an award of damages.

That was a significant factor in assessing where the balance of convenience lay. The prejudice to   Riddler in the absence of an injunction would be difficult to rectify. Its delay in making the application had been relatively short. It could not be said that any damage would have already been done and the balance of convenience lay in granting the interim relief sought.

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