In the case of Dyson Technology Ltd v Pellerey, the High Court upheld a 12 month post-termination restriction preventing a former employee from taking up work for a new employer in circumstances ‘so as to compete’ with Dyson and it granted an injunction on this basis.
More significantly, the High Court made it clear that had it not upheld this restrictive covenant, it would have imposed a ‘springboard injunction’ on the basis that the employee had breached an express contractual requirement to immediately notify Dyson of any approach ‘in connection with offering you employment which is or potentially may be in competition with’ Dyson and its group companies.
Upholding a 12 month restrictive covenant is not unusual. Owing to the great importance of the confidential information to which the employee had access, the length of the clause was justified. The judge’s comments on the imposition of a springboard injunction for breach of a notification term are highly unusual. The general legal consensus is that although clauses of this kind are commonplace, they are difficult to enforce.
Indeed, the judge emphasised that normally breach of a notification clause would not justify restraining an employee from taking up new employment. However in this case, the employee only commenced work on Dyson’s electric car project after having received a conditional offer from its competitor, Tesla. Dyson gave clear evidence that had the executive notified the firm of this offer, it would not have moved him onto this project and he would not therefore have obtained any of the confidential information that it was seeking to protect.