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Firm granted injunction to prevent staff being poached

Posted: 12th February 2015   In: Business Employment

A management consultancy company has been granted an interim injunction to prevent its staff being poached by a rival agency.

The issue arose after two of the company’s staff resigned to join another agency operating in the same line of business. While they were working their notice period, the company discovered that they were providing their new employer with confidential information and helping it identify more staff who might be prepared to defect.

Emails were discovered in which the agency wrote to the departing employees saying it was working at full speed to get offers out to other potential recruits. It said it would arrange one to one conversations to explain its offer in detail to those recruits and added: “your help …will be key.”

Once the consultancy discovered the emails, it immediately dismissed the two departing employees, but it then lost five more members of staff to the rival agency in quick succession.

It sought an injunction to prevent the agency from trying to poach more staff and to restrain its use of confidential information.

The agency submitted that an injunction was unnecessary because no further offers had been made since November 2014.

However, the court ruled that there was at least a case to answer that unlawful practices had been used and so there was a serious issue to be tried. Until such a hearing took place, the court had to decide which course of action would cause the least harm.

If an injunction were not granted and more staff were to leave, that would cause serious harm to the consultancy company. If an injunction were granted, the harm caused to the rival agency would be limited and less serious. An interim injunction was therefore granted preventing the agency from poaching any more of the consultancy’s staff.

Please contact Robert Bedford if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law and protecting your business.