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    Court will not import term to protect employer’s business The court would not import an unstated term to construe an employment contract to protect the employer’s business. Mr Michael Briggs, QC sitting as a deputy Chancery Division judge, so stated on November 26, 2004 dismissing an application by the claimant, the Townsends Group Ltd, for an order against the defendants, Mr Philip Cobb and Ms Nicola Hopkins and Heritage Management Ltd, restraining them from using the claimant’s estate agency trade secrets and soliciting the claimant’s clients for their business started in the name of the third defendant after leaving the claimant’s employment. HIS LORDSHIP said that the issue was whether covenants in the contracts of employment restricting the employees future conduct after leaving their employment were in fact restrictive enough. A restriction not to disclose or use information relating to an estate agent employer’s customers and contracts suffered severe flaws; information relating to the estate agent’s customers and contracts was not a trade secret needing to be protected by injunction. A covenant restricting employees from soliciting the employer’s clients after leaving the employment fell foul of enforceability when it failed to define whether it related to clients in existence at the time of commencing the employment, termination of the employment or when the complaint was made by the employer. The court would not help a party seeking to enforce an ambiguous clause. A party seeking to enforce a covenant could not ask the court to help to save the covenant by arbitrarily importing an implied term. Chancery Division Published December 1, 2004 Townsends Group Ltd v Cobb and others

    The Times: 04.12.04