Haynes v Doman: CA 1899

A former servant entered into new employment carrying with him the trade secrets, with the constant risk of divulging them to rival manufacturers. The position of the expert witness was challenged.
Held: An expert witness may not give evidence on the ultimate issue in the proceedings.
As to contracts in restraint of trade, Lindley MR LJ said: ‘Such agreements cannot be properly held to apply to cases which, although covered by the words of the agreement, cannot be reasonably supposed ever to have been contemplated by the parties, and which on a rational view of the agreement are excluded from its operation by falling, in truth, outside, and not within, its real scope. But, even if some extreme case of a technical breach producing no injury to the party to be protected could be proved, sound principle requires, not that the agreement should be void in toto, but only in so far as it is really unreasonable. Even if the restriction could not be so construed as to exclude such a case, no jury would give the plaintiff any damages, and no judge would grant him an injunction. In such an extreme case the defendant is sufficiently protected against oppression without holding the agreement void in toto, and I am unable to see that public policy requires more.’


Lindley MR L


[1899] 2 Ch 13


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedLeeds Rugby Ltd v Harris and Bradford Bulls Holdings Limited QBD 20-Jul-2005
The claimant sought damages from the defendants saying that the second defendant had induced a breach of contract by the first when he left to play rugby for the second defendant.
Held: The contract could not be said to be void as an agreement . .
CitedBluebell Apparel Ltd v Dickinson SCS 14-Oct-1977
The former employee challenged a restriction on his post employment career.
Held: The restriction was world-wide and as such tooo wide, and unenforceable. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Employment

Updated: 17 May 2022; Ref: scu.229007