Employers take note. Unreasonable delay leads High Court judge to refuse an injunction allowing the company to enforce an employee’s ‘non-compete’ clause.
In the case of Jump Trading International Ltd v Couture  EWHC 1305 (KB), the High Court has denied an application for an interim injunction to enforce a 12 month non-compete clause against its former employee, Damien Couture.
Mr Couture had to give 12 months’ notice to terminate his employment. During this time, Jump was contractually entitled to ask him not to attend or perform any work, which they did for the full 12 month notice period. This would have been followed by a 12 month non-compete and would have prevented Mr Couture from working as a quantitative researcher for a total of 24 months after he resigned.
The court found that his former employer, Jump Trading International Limited’s unreasonable delay in starting legal proceedings resulted in the refusal of the interim injunction. This meant Mr Couture was free to start work with his new employer, Verition Advisors (UK Partners) LLP during the non-compete period. However, the court still has to decide whether the non-compete clause is actually enforceable and since then Jump have brought other claims against Mr Couture. These include a claim for damages for breach of contract in relation to a £518,000 bonus that he was paid.
The litigation is ongoing and the case will be heard in the autumn.
Excello Law’s legal team, Nelu Abeygunasekera (Employment Partner) and Alexandra Collett (Litigation Partner) and Counsel, Niran de Silva KC from Littleton Chambers acting for Mr Couture successfully opposed the application for interim relief sought by Jump.