Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In this article I’ll be look at whether restrictive covenants in settlement agreements (formerly known as compromise agreements) may be upheld in a court of law if the former employer seeks to enforce those covenants. We’ll therefore take a look at:

  1. What is a restrictive covenant?
  2. Why might restrictive covenants be contained in a settlement agreement?
  3. Will a restrictive covenant in a settlement agreement be upheld if an employer seeks to enforce it?
  4. Conclusion

What is a restrictive covenant?

A restrictive covenant – in a general context as well as specifically relating to employment law – is a promise not to undertake certain acts after your contract of employment terminates. This might, for example, be a promise not to compete with the former employer for a specified period after the employee leaves their employment or a promise not to “solicit” defined clients of the former employer.

Why might restrictive covenants be contained in a settlement agreement?

Restrictive covenants are normally relevant for senior employees or executives as they may have access to confidential information or trade secrets of their (former) employer, such as client lists or sensitive financial documents. Employers include such clauses in contracts of employment or settlement agreements to ensure that former employees do not unfairly compete with them after the termination of their employment.

The first thing that an employee should do if their employment with their employer is terminating is to check whether there are any restrictive covenants contained within their contract of employment. If so, then the covenants will apply unless the employer expressly agrees to waive those covenants in the settlement agreement. If not, then the employee has more scope to argue for the “watering-down” or removal of the restrictive covenants in their settlement agreement.

Will a restrictive covenant in a settlement agreement be upheld if an employer seeks to enforce it?

The fact that a restrictive covenant is in a settlement agreement (or compromise agreement) is likely to dispose the court towards enforcement of the restrictive covenant, even though the covenant will be examined by the court to determine whether the scope of the covenant is reasonable. There are a number of reasons why a restrictive covenant which is contained in a settlement agreement will dispose the court towards enforcement, including:

  1. Both parties in the settlement agreement will normally be legally represented (as a statutory settlement agreement is not valid if the employee does not receive legal advice from an independent adviser)
  2. The parties are able to better judge the reasonableness of a covenant at the termination of employment and are therefore in a potentially better position to negotiate the covenant
  3. The court may determine that the parties are no longer in an unequal bargaining position and the situation may be perceived to be more of a “commercial arm’s length transaction” (although in most settlement agreements the positions are still very much unequal!)

Conclusion

Employees who are currently in the process of negotiating a settlement agreement (whether or not they’re legally represented at the time of negotiation) should be extremely careful if there are res

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Contact us

    Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

    T: 020 3397 3603
    E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
    W: www.redmans.co.uk

    Testimonials

    4.78 Average

    269 Reviews

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 days ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 month ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 month ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 month ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 months ago