Andrew Burns wins restrictive covenants appeal

Andrew Burns appeared in the Court of Appeal for the successful appellant in Prophet plc v Huggett [2014] EWCA Civ 1013 an eagerly awaited decision concerning interpretation of restrictive covenants in employment contracts.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal (Rimer, Lewison, Christopher Clarke LJJ) has confirmed that a strict interpretation must be given to restrictive covenants as they are regarded as clauses drafted with particular care.  A court may not easily find that something has gone wrong with the language (as per Chartbrook v Persimmon Homes) and thus a restrictive covenant is not readily amenable to judicial reinterpretation.  The conclusion of the Chancery Division judge (after a speedy 6 day trial reported at Prophet plc v Huggett [2014] IRLR 618) that the words “or similar thereto” should be added to the clause in order to give it commercial effect was overturned and the injunction against the employee discharged.

Further details about the effect of this judgment can be found in a short case note by Andrew Burns.

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