By Anish Chand
The Suva High Court has ordered a Suva man not to take up employment in a company that is in competition with his previous job.
Melvin Singh was employed as a Senior Estimator with Aquaheat South Pacific and resigned to work for Mechanical Services Limited.
The High Court, in a judgement on 6 July 2018 recognised a clause in Singh’s employment contract which prohibits him from working for a rival company unless he obtains his previous employer's approval.
Singh had signed a contract with Aquaheat South Pacific that stated that “you agree that at any time during your employment or for the relevant period following the termination of your employment with the Company or any related holding company, you will not for any reason (directly or indirectly), without prior written consent from us carry on or be connected engaged or interested either directly or indirectly or alone or with any other person or persons whether as principal, partner, agent, director, shareholder, employee or otherwise in any business which competes, may compete with the business of the Company in relation to electrical , mechanical and refrigeration contracting, servicing, consultancy and advisory services.”
Judge Deepthi Amaratunga says there is no dispute both companies are primarily involved in the business of electrical, mechanical, refrigeration and air conditioning servicing.
“They are competitors in the field of business they are engaged in and both companies seek business in the same manner.” Judge Amaratunga states.
“In the information age with vast developments in the field of Information Technology the importance of information relating to a field of business is key to success and also for survival in a competitive market driven knowledge economy. So, information can be protected in certain circumstances when they are commercially sensitive information,” the Judge notes.
The High Court noted that the 1st Defendant (Singh) is in possession of confidential information that are commercially sensitive.
Justice Amaratunga ordered that Singh is restrained from “carrying on or be connected engaged or interested either directly or indirectly or alone or with any other person or persons whether as principal, partner, agent, director, shareholder, employee or otherwise in any business which competes may compete with the business of the Plaintiff in relation to electrical, mechanical and refrigeration contracting, servicing, consultancy and advisory services.”
This restraint applies for a period of 6 months from 13 April until 13 October this year.