Court of Appeal lifts injunction which stopped claimant working for a company similar to his previous employer


Re: Prophet Plc v Huggett [2014] EWCA Civ 1013

Prophet plc sought and obtained an injunction from the High Court restraining Mr Huggett from working for his new employer. The injunction was based on a clause in his contract which sought to limit his ability to work for a similar company within 12 months of his employment with Prophet. Mr Huggett appealed to the Court of Appeal to have the injunction lifted.

The Court allowed the appeal and lifted the injunction. It was common ground between the parties that the clause restricting his employment, if read literally, placed no material restraint on his future employment. The issue for the Court was whether it was open to the Court to interpret the clause in a way to give it a commercially common-sense result. The Court accepted that the clause read literally resulted in an absurdity, but stated the Court could only intervene when the language was ambiguous and admits clear alternatives. In this case the clause was a carefully drawn piece of legal prose and its meaning was clear, albeit absurd.

James Laddie QC was involved in this case.