Wessex Dairies Limited v Smith: CA 1935

A milk roundsman employed by a dairy who canvassed the dairy’s customers while in the employ of the dairy but to take effect after his employment had terminated.
Held: The question to be determined depended upon the term to be implied in the ordinary case of a contract of employment in the absence of express agreement, and held that it ‘is a necessary implication which must be engrafted on such a contract that the servant undertakes to serve his master with good faith and fidelity’. Except in special circumstances, there is no general restriction on an ex-employee canvassing or doing business with customers of his former employer, and ‘the servant may, while in the employment of the master, be as agreeable, attentive and skilful as it is in his power to be to others with the ultimate view of obtaining the benefit of the customers’ friendly feelings when he calls upon them if and when he sets up business for himself’.
Greer LJ formulated the implied term thus: ‘during the continuance of his employment he will act in his employer’s interests and not use the time for which he is paid by the employers in furthering his own interests.’


Maugham LJ, Greer LJ


[1935] 2 KB 80, [1935] All ER 7


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedDass Solicitors v Southcott ChD 2-Apr-2009
The claimant solicitors said that the defendant employed solicitor had sought to leave without giving the required three months’ notice and had sought to persuade clients of the firm to go to his new practice. Application was made on a without . .
CitedRanson v Customer Systems Plc CA 27-Jun-2012
Lewison LJ considered the contractual duty of fidelity within an employment contract:
‘It is not disputed that an employee has an obligation of fidelity towards his employer. If the obligation is not expressed, it will invariably be implied.
CitedWhitmar Publications Ltd v Gamage and Others ChD 4-Jul-2013
Whitmar claimed damages for breach of contract; an account of profits; damages for breach of fiduciary duty and/or for infringement of its Database Rights under the Copyright and Rights in Database Regulations 1997; and for a permanent injunction . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.375143