Many legal minds making NZ LAW work

We are an association of independent legal practices, proactively sharing ideas and expertise for the benefit of our clients.

Are restraint of trade clauses worth the bother?

Published: 11th September 2019

Author: Car San Diego, Rejthar Stuart Law

Published in: Commercial eSpeaking #53

Have an expertly-drafted agreement
Restraint of trade clauses are common in the sale and purchase of a business and in some employment agreements. In a business context, they offer protection to a buyer who has acquired a business and prevent the seller from directly competing against the buyer. A restraint provision in an employment context is designed to protect the employer’s business interests when key employees leave. There’s a general perception that these clauses are difficult to enforce, so why bother?

Non-competition restraint – sale of a business
The purpose of a non-competition restraint in regard to the sale of a business is to ensure that the purchaser is able to retain the benefits of the business they have purchased including existing and potential customers. It prevents the seller from establishing, working for or being involved in a similar business. Non-competition restraints are routinely used in the sale and purchase of businesses.

Non-competition restraint – employment agreement
The first consideration before inserting a restraint of trade clause in an employment agreement is to decide whether or not you, as the employer, have a proprietary right (be it trade connections or trade secrets) which might be considered reasonable to protect. The effect of a restraint in an employment agreement is to prevent your employee from working for a competitor or opening a competing business immediately after their employment ends. Due to the restriction placed on any employee’s livelihood, the necessity for the restraint (which will benefit you as their employer) must be balanced against your employee’s right to earn an income (a restriction for your employee).

Is the restraint reasonable?
In determining whether a restraint of trade is reasonable, the courts will consider the following factors:
• Do you as an employer have a proprietary interest (trade or customer connections) capable of protection?
• Is it reasonable that your employee be restrained from the specified activities?
• Is the period of the restraint reasonable?
• Are the geographical limits of the restraint reasonable?
• What compensation was given to your employee in exchange for them agreeing to be restrained after the end of their employment?
The larger the geographical area and the longer the time restriction, the more likely a restraint of trade will be considered unreasonable.

Is it enforceable?
Absolutely – if the restraint of trade clause has been carefully and correctly drafted according to the specific circumstances of the employment environment and relationship. If it is unnecessarily restrictive, it is more likely it will be unenforceable. The courts have considerable power to delete the restraint, modify it to make it reasonable or deem it unenforceable.

There are also a number of alternative ways you can protect your business, including non-solicitation, confidentiality, intellectual property and confidential information – perhaps articles for another day!

Related Articles

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Kapiti Coast
  • Manawatu - Wanganui
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

Simpson Western

Simpson Western is a leading law firm in Auckland North, with offices in Takapuna and Silverdale.

The firm has ten partners, supported by a team of specialist lawyers, legal executives and a general manager, together with a team of excellent support staff.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 486 3058

Sandford & Partners Lawyers

We are a medium sized Rotorua law firm practicing in areas of business and property law, public law and personal legal services.

We are professionals who listen, who seek to understand your needs, and give practical and usable advice. We thrive on the challenge of providing excellent legal work and aim to give you the highest level of service. For us, working for you means dealing with the little details as well as the big picture.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 348 6039

Parry Field Lawyers

With expertise in a wide variety of legal matters, Parry Field has developed a reputation for providing high quality legal advice and services in a timely fashion.

With offices in Riccarton, Hokitika and Rolleston Parry Field like to cover all bases.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: 03 348 8480

Purnell Lawyers

There is nothing as inevitable as change. Since opening for business early last century, we at Purnell Lawyers have seen many changes both in name and in the people who have made up the members of our team. We have been privileged to have served the public throughout all of these times. 

We are confident that we will continue to bring top quality legal services to our clients well into the future.

Region: Coromandel

Phone: 07 868 8680

Woodward Chrisp

At Woodward Chrisp we strive to meet the needs of our clients by providing a wide range of high quality legal services within a supportive and collaborative environment.

Woodward Chrisp is the amalgamation of two long established Gisborne legal firms: Woodward Iles & Co and Chrisp and Chrisp. Today’s partners are Ross Revington, Adam Simperingham, Jeff Allen and Ellie FitzGerald.

Region: Gisborne

Phone: 06 869 0900

Gifford Devine

For all life’s matters, the team at Gifford Devine have your back. Since 1896, our lawyers have been providing straight-talking, practical advice and advocacy to people, families and businesses in Hawke’s Bay.

As your legal champions, we’ll serve you as a trusted adviser, listen to your needs, offer plain English advice, and find a solution to get you the best possible outcome.

We have the expertise to identify potential legal issues, to help you make important decisions, and to realise your goals. We’re your legal champions for all reasons and at all stages of life.

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 873 0420

BMC Lawyers

BMC lawyers has built a reputation for providing quality service and delivering real results. Our strength is our broad-ranging legal experience that gives us the ability to match clients with the right mix of legal skills for their particular needs.

Our legal professionals are passionate about what they do and work alongside a talented team of support and administration staff to make a real positive difference to our clients.”

Region: Kapiti Coast

Phone: 04 296 1105

Horsley Christie

Horsley Christie is a successful law firm based in Whanganui which offers a diverse range of legal services to the Whanganui Region and beyond and has done for over 100 years.

When you deal with Horsley Christie you do so in the knowledge that the firm is one of many law practices nationwide who are members of NZ LAW.

Region: Manawatu - Wanganui

Phone: 06 349 0090

Wain & Naysmith

Based in Blenheim, Wain & Naysmith Lawyers is a full service law firm, and a powerhouse for property, family and business law.

We pride ourselves in providing clear and cost effective legal solutions and practical advice for you, your family and your business.

Region: Marlborough

Phone: 03 520 6103

Knapps Lawyers

As a firm, we promise to look after you and treat you in a manner that we would expect to be treated by a professional services provider; we promise to use every available legal remedy available to us to resolve your issue and to do what you ask us to do in a timely manner.

We will hold in strict confidence all information that we acquire through our work for you and which concerns your business or personal information.  The only exceptions are where you authorise us to disclose such information or where we must do so by law.

Region: Nelson

Phone: 03 544 7888

Law North Limited

We pride ourselves on being a "general store" for most legal issues but also have several in-house experts in specialised areas including trusts, relationship property, business and property law.  No matter what your issue is - whether you are looking for trusted legal advisers to steer you through life, or you have a one-off problem to sort out - we would be pleased to help.

Law North Ltd provides a broad range of legal services across the Far North district from our base in Kerikeri.   We have operated in the area for over 100 years and have a long-standing history of providing legal services to a diverse client base, including businesses and private clients.   Our directors and their families have been part of the Bay of Islands community for several generations and remain committed to the area and its people.  We often call upon strong local knowledge to resolve issues for clients whilst remaining vigilant about client confidentiality.

Region: Northland

Phone: 09 407 7099

Wilkinson Rodgers Lawyers

Our specialists work together to provide clients with the full range of advice they need to achieve their desired results. If you're looking for specialist knowledge and advice, are a company or individual we can help you by making it easier for you to achieve your objectives.

Our area of expertise include, but not limited to;

  • Commercial
  • Community
  • Family Law
  • Home, Asset & Employment
  • Wills & Estates

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 477 9844

Cruickshank Pryde

We are proud to provide a full suite of legal services to the regions of Southland and Central Otago. With our offices, located in Invercargill, Gore and Queenstown, equipped with the latest modern technology, we can service wider New Zealand and international clients with ease. Our areas of expertise include commercial, rural, business, employment, family, criminal, property, resource management and estate planning law.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 214 4069

RMY Legal

Having been a cornerstone in the New Plymouth and Taranaki legal community since the 1930s we offer in-depth knowledge coupled with legal expertise and always put the needs of you and your business at the heart of what we do.

Not only do we offer a first class service to clients throughout Taranaki, we are passionate about what we do and our success stems from delivering advice in clear and understandable terms.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 769 8080

Edmonds Judd

Edmonds Judd is based in Te Awamutu with an office in Otorohanga and continues to proudly serve the Waikato District as it has done for over 100 years. Known as a firm that generations of families have relied on and looked to for advice and assistance in both the good times and the bad, Edmonds Judd is the friendly and trusted name in legal services. Blending experience with cutting edge technology, which is rivalled only by the level of service and satisfaction which is provided to its loyal clients. Edmonds Judd’s friendly staff are more than happy to assist you in any enquiry you may have.

We will provide you with:

  • Smart and innovative legal thinking
  • Plain and simple language, instead of legal jargon
  • Decades of knowledge and broad perspectives from our widely experienced team
  • Access to the resources and skills of the NZ LAW group that Edmonds Judd is a member of.
  • You’ll have the knowledge of over 55 independent law firms behind you.

Region: Waikato

Gawith Burridge

Gawith Burridge traces its history back to 1875 when Charles Gawith first set up his practice. Since then the firm has undergone many changes, including a merger between Gawith & Co and Burridge & Co in 1998 to form our current practice.

Our firm draws on the breadth of expertise available from some of the region’s most senior legal practitioners, as well as the skills of those who have moved here from larger corporate environments.

As a result, we provide clients with a comprehensive range of legal services right here in the Wairarapa. We can provide you with legal assistance whether you are an individual or a company, with everything from setting up a Will to selling your farming business. 

Region: Wairarapa

Phone: 06 370 0000

Greg Kelly Law Ltd

Greg Kelly Law Limited is a boutique Wellington law firm specialising in trust and elder law. Our practice areas are wills, estates and trusts.

We act for private and institutional clients establishing and administering trusts, wills and estates. We also provide quality advice to legal and accounting firms in New Zealand and overseas. In particular, we can assist with legal opinions, obtaining and resealing probate, and estate and trust litigation.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 499 5193

Hannan & Seddon

The Law Firm of Hannan & Seddon dates back to September 1867.

The firm's offices were in Werita Street from 1867 until 1982 when the firm moved to Tarapuhi Street and then to its current spacious premises at 61 Guinness Street in 1998.

The name Hannan comes from Mr Michael Hannan whose son John Hannan (Jack) joined the firm in 1908. Jack Hannan remained in partnership until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 90!

The name Seddon comes from Mr T E Y Seddon (son of Premier Richard John Seddon from Kumara) who joined the firm in the 1920's. The other prominent Solicitor at Hannan & Seddon was Cyril McGinley who joined the firm in the late 1920’s and retired as a Consultant in 1997 aged 87.

Currently we have two Partners within our firm. Tony Sullivan who has been with us for 29 years and Colin Smith, 26 years. The firm also has two long serving Legal Executives Elaine Knowles and Beverley Walsh.  

Region: West Coast

Phone: 03 768 4169

All the information published on this website, or in any article herein is true and accurate to the best of the authors' knowledge. Information on this site should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by NZ LAW Limited, or individual NZ LAW member firms for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on information published on this site. Views expressed in any article are the views of the authors individually and do not necessarily reflect the view of NZ LAW or their member firms. Information appearing on this site may only be reproduced with prior approval from NZ LAW Limited Head Office, and credit being given to the source. © NZ LAW Limited