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.

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