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Breach Of Employment Contract...

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Bluestone | 17:26 Wed 19th Dec 2012 | Law
28 Answers
Hi. I need some advice from someone/anyone who has experience in this kind of thing, and who knows what they're talking about (no offence).

I have received a letter in the post today, from a solicitors acting on behalf of a company I used to work for. I left them a good few months ago, after finding different employment and handing in my notice.
The letter states "it has been brought to the company's attention that you have recently engaged in activity which places you in breach of the terms of the employment contract referred to. In particular, we are informed that you accessed the company's client prospecting system on (date), after your employment had terminated. It is believed that you did this with a view to securing work from the company's clients and prospective clients, details of which are regarded as confidential".

It then goes on to state that I must respond by the 31st December 2012 or "the company will have no alternative but to consider appropriate action to protect its interests, including an application to the court for an immediate injunction and it's legal costs, without further notice to you".

There is then a copy of my contract, and a form which says I must undertake the following:

Within 7 days from the date of signing this document, provide to the company a witness statement together with a statement of truth setting out fully detailed information as to:

i) the nature, extent and location of the information relating to the business, products, affairs and finances of the company or any group company and trade secrets including, but not limited to, technical data and know-how relating to the business of any group company or their business contacts ("confidential information") which I have accessed since my employment with the company came to an end on (date) ("Termination date")

ii) when and how I gained access to the company's confidential information held at (address) ("the database"), including the identity of any individual who assisted or provided information to enable me to access that site since the termination date.

Etc, etc, etc....

Basically, the long and short of it is, I did *not* do this. On the date that my employment ended, I went straight into my new job.
The date they say I accessed the company's database, I was out visiting clients for my new job. My login had already been closed down at this point, but they are insinuating that someone else in the company gave me their login details and I used these... which did not happen.

I would like to know where I stand with this.

Any legal eagles out there that can offer some advice, it would be greatly appreciated.




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It isn't your responsibility to prove anything. If this company want to prove that you have illegally accessed their database, thereby committing a civil offence, then they need to involve the police and sort out what they want to charge you with.
This sounds like a typical bully tactic - and no coincidence that it's happening before the Christmas break as they seem to want to spoil your holidays.
My advice is to blow it out of your rear, do nothing, sit back and enjoy your hols.
If you have perchance done something you aren't telling us of, see a solicitor but if you're as innocent as you say, let them bring it on.
just ignore it and enjoy christmas, do not sign anything, it's up to them to supply proof of any wrongdoings if any exist at all.
Should they write again then consult a solicitor.
Question Author
Thank you ever so much for replying, I am pretty stressed at the moment.
I can put my hand on my heart and say that 100% I did not access their website. I was out all day seeing clients, and as I knew my login had been shut down, I would have had no way to access it any way.
I have just phoned the solicitors (before I saw your reply) and said that none of this happened. The guy I spoke to said he would "look at the file and get back to me". I have asked him, seeing as how they've put so much into the letter (including a copy of my contract) why have they not put in the proof of what they are accusing me of.

I am so annoyed, upset and angry!!

Thank you again.
Question Author
Thank you Baza.
That's what I've just said to the solicitor. I would love to see the proof of this, as I know 100% it never happened!

Thank you :)
Personally I would not ignore it, as that suggests guilt.

I would simply write a letter flatly denying any wrongdoing.

I have no legal training or experience, I am just stating what I would do.
Question Author
Thanks for responding, Hoppy. That's what I was thinking, too.
If I just ignore it, they may come to the conclusion that I'm burying my head in the sand, and am guilty.
I am waiting to hear back from the solicitor now. I want to see this proof. Surely they have to have some kind of hard evidence to accuse me of this.
Did they quote you a time that you were supposed to haved accessed the system. If not ask them to advise you and then get your new employers to confirm your whereabouts on the day, making it impossible for you to have committed the offence.
for me the focus should be on ascertaining when and where and on what terminal this breach supposedly took place, they should be able to know exactly which terminal, when the log-in happened and who's it was and also why do they think it would have been you doing it? if it happened at all. If it was someone else using their own log-in to look at the information, then why has this been considered a breach of contract as the person looking at the info must have had a current log-in, it's full of holes, but you need to react with a clear statement and give them the opportunity to explain why they think you are involved.
Ubasses, with modern technology being away from the office would not be proof of innocence.
Question Author
Thanks. They have said I logged into their systems at 08.40. I know this was impossible, as I was taking my children to school at this time, and then I went straight on my first appointment.
I have told the solicitor I would like to see a copy of this, but I'm not holding my breath.
No, but if it coincided with one of the appointments and attendance was confirmed, it would make it difficult for them to prove. And it would depend on the the Companies systems. I would never have been able to log into my employers computer system if I was not in one of their branches.
Question Author
Dotty, Thanks for responding. Just read the letter again and it says I logged into the company database *four* days after I'd left and started with my new company.
This is impossible as my login details were taken off the system on the date I left. They are insinuating that I used someone else's login details to access their system, and (as above) are asking for the name of the individual who assisted me with this.

I cant give them any of this information, as it never happened! :-(
Question Author
Ubasses, the company laptop was still in my posession, as they had not arranged for anyone to pick it up.
However, it was all boxed up and waiting to be collected. It wasn't even switched on and, even if it had been, I could not have logged in if I wanted to, as my login would have been cancelled on the day that I left.
They are saying I used it four days after I'd started with this new company - which is absolute rubbish!!
If they are saying that you used someone else login, they are completely shooting themselves in the foot:

Someone logged in.
They don't know who it was, but they do know the login used.
The login wasn't yours.

There is no evidence (not even circumstantial evidence) on which they are basing their accusation.

I would reply "without prejudice", pointing out the above, and also stating that if the company continues to make defamatory claims against you, that you'll have no choice but to place the matter in the hands of your solicitors.

If they cared to examine your laptop in due course, they would be able to see from the access information whether or not you had indeed used it to access their website.

As others have said, you have your facts to rebut their allegations. Let them get on with it - what sort of injunction would they be taking out against you, what would they be trying to stop you doing? I don't understand this at all!
I can't add much to what has been said above. I'm not an employment expert (hopefully Buildersmate or TonyW might see this), but you can't be in breach of a contract once it is terminated.

So apart from the fact that they don't have a cause of action under breach of contract, and that they have NO evidence to link this to you, the solicitors are talking absolute and utter nonsense.

barmaid said
// I'm not an employment expert (hopefully Buildersmate or TonyW might see this), but you can't be in breach of a contract once it is terminated. //

In my Contract of employment I had to agree that if I or my company terminated my employment I agreed not to approach clients of my Company within 6 months of the termination. Are you saying that my Contract is not worth the paper its written on then? Surely if you agree not to do something after your Contract is terminated then that's part of the Contract
No I am not saying that at all - those time limited "non solicitation" clauses (more in the nature of restrictive covenants) are enforceable.

However BS's employers have said she is in breach for accessing their systems which is entirely different.
Can't add much more.
The wording (from the OP's question) suggests the solicitors maintain it is an alleged 'breach of the terms of the employment contract'. One of those terms seems to be the restrictive covenant. I agree the employment contract is already terminated.
Question Author
Thank you for all the responses. I didn't get much sleep last night, because I was really worried about this. Wish I had blimmin read the other replies now, as it would have made me feel much better about the situation!
Still haven't heard anything back from the solicitors, but I intend to call them at 9 o'clock.
There was a lot more to the above, but I couldn't possibly list it all. What I should have included, though, was that one of the clauses was regarding the restrictive covenant that I had/have in place. This means I cannot approach any previous clients, or anyone I had dealings with during my time at this company, for six months.
I am not stupid, though, and I am fully aware of how the covenant works. I had one in place when I went to them, and didn't breach that! It just seems to me that they are just bitter that I left, but to be honest, the way the company was going, I wanted to leave before things went tits up and I found myself out of a job. I think they were holding onto me until my previous restrictive covenant was up (I had a month to go) and I could transfer all my old business and clients into their company. I got out just before it was up, and have now transferred these people into the company I am now working for. This is where I think all this has come from. Nothing short of good old fashioned bitterness. I hope that makes sense and, hopefully, will explain the situation a bit better.

With regards to the answers I've received and what I'm going to do now, I am going to contact the solicitors at 9 o'clock and ask them for a copy of the "evidence" that they must surely have with regards to this accusation.
I will then write them a letter, and explain that I did not access their database four days after I left the company and, even if I wanted to, it would have been impossible for me to do so as my login had been shut down.

I could do without this right now, and it has put a bit of a dampner on things.

Thanks again.

Oh, one more thing, should I also send a copy of my letter to the company in question, or should I just deal with the solicitors now?

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