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Thomas
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 7609
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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In May 2007 I left my company and set up my own business, which

Customer Question

In May 2007 I left my company and set up my own business, which would be in competition with my previous employer. I had a restrictive covenant for a total of 3 months after I left the business. I did break this covenant by working with a client but put all business through a 3rd party so I would not be breaking my restrictive covenant or would be hard for my previous employer to prove that I had.

Up to now I have not told anyone what I am doing and remained silent, however I do believe that everyone knows what I am doing about the 3rd party company in which I used to cover my tracks in the first 3 months.

It has now been 3 years since I left. Can my ex employer still take me to court if they wish to?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 7 years ago.

Hello,

 

Thanks for your question.

 

If your employer found out about your breach of contract AND were able to prove the breach on the balance of probabilities to the Court then the could potentially sue you.

 

The limitation period relevant to this is 6 years from the date of the breach, so you cannot be certain that they have no prospect of a successful application until this period has expired. Once it has they will be time-barred and although they could attempt to issue, the claim would automatically be thrown out.

 

You seem to suggest that you have covered your tracks in a fairly sophisticated fashion and coupled with the amount of time that has already passed then I would find you pretty unlucky to be issued with a claim now.

 

Needless to say, you should avoid the disclosure of any information which could put your ex employers on the scent until the 6 year limitation period has expired.


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Kind regards,

Tom

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi,

Thankyou for your response. Can you please answer the following.

If my old company were to sue me with proof of the breach of contract how much could they sue me for?

When I left my old company the contract was worth £150,000 per annum however since leaving I have grown this to £450,000 turnover with about £60,000 profit per year since leaving.

So in a nutshell since I have left I have been earning around £50,000 to £80,000 per annum from this client.

Thank you in advance
Expert:  Thomas replied 6 years ago.

Hi,

 

If the could prove that the restrictive covenant was in place to protect a legitimate business interest and you breached the covenant by, in effect, poaching a client then they could still sue you (as above).

 

They would certainly be able to sue you for the money they would have earned during this period of time. The loss after that would obviously be litigated over and there would be quite complicated issues to resolved about the amount of consequential loss. Your argument would be that it was probable that the client would have terminate their agreement with your old company in any event OR that you would have approached the client legitimately after the three month period and they would have contracted directly with you. Their argumernt would be that this would not have been certain.


I would not expect the hugely increased revenue to be included however since it is not reasonably foreseeable that it would have grown to that level and the 3 month period has long since lapsed.


You will be fine I should think.

 

Kind regards,


Tom