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Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation clauses are quite common in employment contracts, but how often are they enforced? You may find yourself with a clause which appears to extend well-beyond when your employment ends, leaving you unable to find new work.
Thankfully, there are limits to which such clauses are permitted to extend. When these clauses are brought before the court, the court will determine their enforceability on the basis of reasonableness and the principles of contract law.
In the case of Martin v. ConCreate USL Limited Partnership, 2013 ONCA 72 which made it to the Ontario Court of Appeal, it was held that restrictive clauses (non-compete and non-solicitation) not allowing for a “clear outside limit”-that is to say, a limit for the clause’s reach- are unenforceable.
Additionally, in the instance of a non-compete or non-solicitation clause wherein a breach of the corresponding employment agreement is found, the courts are more likely to find the clause(s) severable and unenforceable on the basis that an inequality in bargaining power exists between employee and employer (See: ACS Public Sector Solutions Inc v. Arntsen, 48 B C L R (4th) 328,  B C J No. 2656 (QL)).
Non-compete and non-solicitation clauses are very technical and you need ongoing legal advice from an employment lawyer in order to avoid a potentially much more expensive lawsuit.
If you find yourself terminated or looking for work, but are unable to find re-employment within your field as a result of a non-compete or non-solicitation clause, contact an employment lawyer. At Monkhouse Law, we are able to review such clauses and determine whether a legal remedy is available (and necessary). It is best to have these clauses reviewed at the outset of employment prior to signing an employment contract, but later reviews are possible and recommended.
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