You and the Law – 18th October 2011

Rade secrets

In the 1990’s I signed an employment agreement which stated that I wasn’t to work for a similar business within a radius of 15 miles of my current employer, nor approach its customers, for a period of 12 months after leaving.  Would these provisions still apply, and what would happen if I ignored them?  LC

If the courts were to uphold the restriction you could be prevented from taking up employment with the rival firm.  But in practice such clauses are used more to discourage employees than to restrain them legally.  Your current employers would have to be able to show that the clause was reasonable and necessary to protect their trade interests in order to succeed in a claim against you.  So it would depend on your seniority within the firm, the nature of the business, and whether the 12-month restriction and the 15-mile radius was reasonable.  If you have specialist knowledge within a firm working in a narrow field you should take detailed legal advice.  

Add-on cost

We have planning consent to build an extension.  As requested, I wrote to the freeholders to let them know.  They gave their consent, but they are asking for a £225 administration fee.  Can they charge us that much money?  GH

I’m afraid so.  I have some sympathy with you but your lease will no doubt commit you to paying the reasonable costs and expenses of the freeholder, and if pressed the freeholder would probably be able to justify the sum in terms of legal costs etc.  It could have cost you a lot more if you had gone ahead and built the extension without the freeholder’s permission.

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