In 1908 the plaintiff company agreed to employ the defendant F. as manager of the company at Liverpool for five years from January, 1909, and by clause 7 it was provided that the manager should not for a period of one year after the determination of the agreement, whether by effluxion of time or in any other way whatsoever, either solely or jointly with or as agent for any other person, firm or company, directly or indirectly carry on or be engaged, concerned or interested in carrying on, within the United Kingdom the trade or business of an importer of meat or an agent for importers of meat, or any other trade or business similar to any trade or business carried on during the period of his employment by the company (except with the consent in writing of the directors for the time being).
At the date of the agreement the plaintiff company’s business as importers or agents for importers was confined to the Australasian trade as distinguished from the American trade, though they did some business as wholesale dealers in meat, including American meat. The business was conducted almost entirely in the north of England and the Midlands, but it had since undergone considerable expansion. In proceedings to enforce clause 7 of the agreement it was admitted that the concluding part of the clause was too wide, but it was contended that the clause was severable and that the first part was not too wide and was enforceable by injunction.
Held: Clause 7 of the agreement was severable, but that the restraint against carrying on within the United Kingdom the business of a meat importer or agent for meat importers was wider than was reasonably’ required for the protection of the plaintiff company, because it embraced the American trade as well as the Australasian trade and could not be fairly construed as referring to the latter trade
alone, and because it extended to the whole of the United Kingdom, and that the clause was therefore void as being in undue restraint of trade notwithstanding the time limit of one year. To preclude a former servant from carrying on his natural business in any part whatever of the United Kingdom is a very strong step and requires exceptional justification.’
 UKLawRpCh 140, (1914) 1 Ch 413
England and Wales
Cited – Mason v Provident Clothing and Supply Co Ltd HL 1913
The employee had covenanted not to work for any of the employer’s competitors ‘within 25 miles of London’. The appellate committee held that the employer had failed to establish that the extension of the restraint to the area thus specified was . .
Cited – Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd SC 3-Jul-2019
The company appealed from rejection of its contention that its former employee should be restrained from employment by a competitor under a clause in her former employment contract. The court particularly considered the severability of a section . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 11 April 2022; Ref: scu.675710