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Breach Of Employment Contract...

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Bluestone | 17:26 Wed 19th Dec 2012 | Law
28 Answers
Hi. I need some advice from someone/anyone who has experience in this kind of thing, and who knows what they're talking about (no offence).

I have received a letter in the post today, from a solicitors acting on behalf of a company I used to work for. I left them a good few months ago, after finding different employment and handing in my notice.
The letter states "it has been brought to the company's attention that you have recently engaged in activity which places you in breach of the terms of the employment contract referred to. In particular, we are informed that you accessed the company's client prospecting system on (date), after your employment had terminated. It is believed that you did this with a view to securing work from the company's clients and prospective clients, details of which are regarded as confidential".

It then goes on to state that I must respond by the 31st December 2012 or "the company will have no alternative but to consider appropriate action to protect its interests, including an application to the court for an immediate injunction and it's legal costs, without further notice to you".

There is then a copy of my contract, and a form which says I must undertake the following:

Within 7 days from the date of signing this document, provide to the company a witness statement together with a statement of truth setting out fully detailed information as to:

i) the nature, extent and location of the information relating to the business, products, affairs and finances of the company or any group company and trade secrets including, but not limited to, technical data and know-how relating to the business of any group company or their business contacts ("confidential information") which I have accessed since my employment with the company came to an end on (date) ("Termination date")

ii) when and how I gained access to the company's confidential information held at (address) ("the database"), including the identity of any individual who assisted or provided information to enable me to access that site since the termination date.

Etc, etc, etc....

Basically, the long and short of it is, I did *not* do this. On the date that my employment ended, I went straight into my new job.
The date they say I accessed the company's database, I was out visiting clients for my new job. My login had already been closed down at this point, but they are insinuating that someone else in the company gave me their login details and I used these... which did not happen.

I would like to know where I stand with this.

Any legal eagles out there that can offer some advice, it would be greatly appreciated.




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Just write to the solicitors. I wouldn't just say you didn't access the database 4 days later, but you haven't accessed it at all since after the time your contract was terminated. I wouldn't say your login was stopped, because the obvious question is "how did you know". You can say you assumed your login was stopped.
Question Author
Thank you very, very much. That has given me something to go on, as I wasn't really sure how to word it without it sounding "guilty".
I was told by them, that my login and access to the database would be shut down on the date my contract ended, therefore I should "tie up any loose ends before then". That's how I knew about that.

Thankyou so much. I really appreciate it.
...not only did you assume your login was deleted but you would not act so unprofessionally as to attempt to access a database that you had no rights over, and that you deeply resent your integrity being called into question in this way. A competent company should be in control of its systems and if they aren't that's their responsibility not yours.
Question Author
That's brilliant, Mosaic. Thank you.
It's hard to come up with the correct words, when you're so annoyed and frustrated. I need it to sound "correct", and not just like I'm rambling away on AB! :P

Thank you :-)

Barmaid is legally qualified (and I am not). However, the way I deal with these sorts of issues, whether writing to solicitors or organisations that I am in dialogue with, is to state as little as possible during the period of 'fishing expeditions'. One does not need to be explaining in full one's own side of the story - just state the simple truth. The more one says now, the more one has to defend later if it all does happen to go pear-shaped.

You've now given us more info about your employment history. It sounds like you were employed by company A who held you to a restrictive convenant over clients when you left to join company B (who are the aggrieved). You left B just before six months service were up and have set-up elsewhere using the data from A.
That data is now more than 6 months old. I assume you are saying you have used none of this client list from A during your time with B?
Question Author
Thanks Buildersmate. Much appreciated.

Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. The time was fast approaching that I would have been able to use company A's client list (business I had gained myself) for company B.
However, things with company B weren't progressing as I thought they would have, and so I took up an offer of employment with company C (my new employers) after being headhunted and I'm now using the client list from company A to do business with - which I am legally entitled to do.

Company B are not alleging I have broken my restrictive covenant, but they are saying I accessed their systems after I left them, with a view to doing so (breaking the covenant agreement).

I hope that makes sense and, as always, thank you for taking the time to answer.
Please make sure you don't run up a legal bill. Restrictive covenants are extremely difficult to enforce so even if you had done the deed it's unlikely you could be guilty of BOC. Don't get stressed, I'd ignore it.
Ineresting. They obviously believe you did something - but so what

I would add a) remember to keep a diary - esp of phone calls and what was said.
b) I wd follow up any call with a letter summing up what was said.

I love the bit about their saying you have accessed the database and then asking you to tell them how you did it - they should of course know that.....

all you legal eagles out there - dont contracts determine and not terminate ?
A bit technical I agree - I have been infected by Atiyah.

and finally I think you should write and say if they are applying for an injunction then you should be given the opportunity to oppose it ( remembering that opposed injunctions are hardly ever granted )
One sided injunctions where the judge has only heard one party ( = ex parte) are a real pain in the ass to handly and tooling up and saying judgy baby I dont think you should grant this for the simple reason it is a load......
makes life much easier and also while you are at it you can oppose an application for der daaaah costs.

telling your ex employer to get knotted and minimising the amound of money you spend doing it is after all the name of the game here.

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