15 Jan 2019

Tenon FM Ltd v Cawley [2018] EWHC 1972

Facts

Ms Cawley started work with Tenon FM in 2008. She was promoted in 2011 and given a new employment contract that contained additional restrictive covenants. In 2012, she was given another contract that contained identical restrictions. Tenon was unable to find signed copies of either of the contracts. Ms Cawley said that she had refused to sign them because she did not agree to the restrictive covenants. She resigned in May 2018. Tenon applied for an interim injunction to enforce the restrictive covenants.

Decision

The High Court refused to grant the injunction because it was not satisfied that there was a serious issue to be tried or that Tenon would be likely to succeed at trial. Tenon had been unable to demonstrate that there was a signed contract or that it had provided any consideration in return for Ms Cawley entering into the 2011 or 2012 contracts. In addition, other senior staff were not subject to similar restrictions so they were unlikely to be reasonable.

Comment

This is a useful reminder to employers to ensure that employees sign contracts of employment and that they retain a copy. Where the change does not have an immediate impact, it is not possible to infer agreement by the employee continuing to work. Where changes are made, adequate consideration should be provided for the change to be valid. Lastly, there should be consistency in order for the restrictions to be reasonable, ie staff at the same level should be subject to similar covenants.