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Konkurrensklausuler i anställningsavtal vid kunskapsföretag

Lindsö, Anna LU (2015) LAGM01 20151
Department of Law
Abstract
During the last century, the Swedish society has developed from being an industrial towards becoming a knowledge-based society. As a consequence, so-called knowledge management-companies have come to occupy a central role in society. Knowledge management-companies ́ primary production is knowledge and not matter. Since the employees possess the knowledge, they are the most valuable resources of these companies. Consequently, the employers in these companies are anxious to protect this knowledge.

During the employment the employee is obliged to be loyal to the employer. The duty of loyalty inter alia means that the employer is forbidden to pursue competitive business with the employer. The employer also has a need for protection against... (More)
During the last century, the Swedish society has developed from being an industrial towards becoming a knowledge-based society. As a consequence, so-called knowledge management-companies have come to occupy a central role in society. Knowledge management-companies ́ primary production is knowledge and not matter. Since the employees possess the knowledge, they are the most valuable resources of these companies. Consequently, the employers in these companies are anxious to protect this knowledge.

During the employment the employee is obliged to be loyal to the employer. The duty of loyalty inter alia means that the employer is forbidden to pursue competitive business with the employer. The employer also has a need for protection against competition after the employment. Non-competition clauses offer such protection. Non-competition clauses can be formed in different ways and have different purposes. Typically, they hinder an employee from pursuing competitive business with the employer for a specified period of time. There are rules that regulate the usage of non- competition clauses in the Agreement of 1969 and in Section 38 of the Contracts Act.

The Agreement of 1969 is intended to be used within the production- industry and regulates when a non-competition clause may be used and what conditions it may contain. The Agreement is compulsory if the employer and the employee are members of organizations that are parties to the Agreement and if the company’s business is covered by the Agreement ́s area of application. If these conditions are not fulfilled, Section 38 of the Contracts Act is applicable. The general perception is that the 1969 Agreement ́s area of application does not cover knowledge management- companies.

Unlike the 1969 Agreement, Section 38 of the Contracts Act has a general shape. The rule states that a non-competition clause has to be reasonable. Since the rule does not clarify what conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for a non-competition clause to be reasonable, the meaning of the reasonableness-prerequisite is unclear. Its uncertain meaning has created an unclear legal position that undermines the function of non-competition clauses.

This essay investigates what considerations the court makes in order to determine whether a non–competition clause in an employment contract in a knowledge management-company is reasonable according to Section 38 of the Contracts Act. The court practice shows that the court undertakes an overall assessment based on all circumstances. The assessment is divided into three steps. First, the court determines whether the non-competition clause is covered by the 1969 Agreement. If not, the court is restrictive in its assessment of the non-competition clause. Subsequently, the court assesses whether the non-competition clause has a legitimate interest of protection. If the clause has such an interest the court assesses whether the clause is reasonable. This assessment is based on a number of factors such as the employee ́s position within the company, the geographic scope of the non- competition clause, the binding period of the non-competition clause and the form of the employment contract.

In the essay I also analyze how to clarify the legal position and make it more foreseeable. In my opinion, neither additional law nor court practice are suitable approaches. Instead, I argue that the parties of the labor market should implement an intertrade agreement with guidelines that clarifies what constitutes a reasonable non-competition clause in an employment contract in a knowledge management-company. Eventually, such an intertrade agreement could come to establish a labor market-norm for good practice regarding non-competition clauses in employment contracts in the knowledge management-business.

The legal position could also be made clear if the area of application of the 1969 Agreement expands to also include knowledge management- companies. At present, as of May 2015, there are ongoing renegotiations that primarily aim to expand the area of application of the Agreement. In my opinion such an expansion should, anyhow, be complemented by an intertrade agreement.

If the legal position is not made clear my prediction is that fewer employers will use non-competition clauses. There is a tendency that non-solicitation clauses could come to replace non-competition clauses. Non-solicitation clauses are not an adequate substitute for non-competition clauses though, since their protection is not as extensive. Consequently, there is a public interest that the legal position of non-competition clauses in employment contracts in knowledge management-companies is made clear. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Under det senaste seklet har det svenska samhället utvecklats från att ha varit ett industrisamhälle till att bli ett kunskapssamhälle. Denna utveckling har inneburit att s.k. kunskapsföretag har kommit att få en alltmer central roll i samhället. Kunskapsföretag kännetecknas av att de främst bedriver kunskapsproduktion och inte materiell produktion. Det är de anställdas kunskap som utgör kunskapsföretagens viktigaste resurs. Arbetsgivare vid kunskapsföretag är således måna om att skydda denna kunskap.

Under anställningsförhållandet är arbetstagaren skyldig att vara lojal mot arbetsgivaren. Denna lojalitetsplikt innebär b.la. att arbetstagaren är förbjuden att bedriva med sin arbetsgivare konkurrerande verksamhet. Även efter... (More)
Under det senaste seklet har det svenska samhället utvecklats från att ha varit ett industrisamhälle till att bli ett kunskapssamhälle. Denna utveckling har inneburit att s.k. kunskapsföretag har kommit att få en alltmer central roll i samhället. Kunskapsföretag kännetecknas av att de främst bedriver kunskapsproduktion och inte materiell produktion. Det är de anställdas kunskap som utgör kunskapsföretagens viktigaste resurs. Arbetsgivare vid kunskapsföretag är således måna om att skydda denna kunskap.

Under anställningsförhållandet är arbetstagaren skyldig att vara lojal mot arbetsgivaren. Denna lojalitetsplikt innebär b.la. att arbetstagaren är förbjuden att bedriva med sin arbetsgivare konkurrerande verksamhet. Även efter anställningens upphörande har arbetsgivaren behov av skydd mot konkurrens. Konkurrensklausuler erbjuder ett sådant skydd. Konkurrensklausuler kan ha olika utformning och syften. Typiskt sett så förhindrar de dock en arbetstagare från att bedriva med sin arbetsgivare konkurrerande verksamhet under en viss tid efter anställningens upphörande. Det finns bestämmelser som reglerar tillåtligheten av konkurrensklausuler dels i ett kollektivavtal, 1969 års överenskommelse om konkurrensklausuler, framledes benämnd Överenskommelsen, dels i 38 § AvtL.

Överenskommelsen är avsedd att tillämpas inom tillverkningsindustrin och dess bestämmelser reglerar när en konkurrensklausul får användas och vad en sådan får innehålla. Innehållet i Överenskommelsen är tvingande om såväl arbetsgivare som arbetstagare är medlemmar i organisationer som är parter till Överenskommelsen samt företagets verksamhet omfattas av dess tillämpningsområde. I annat fall prövas tillåtligheten av konkurrensklausuler enligt 38 § AvtL. Den allmänna uppfattningen är att kunskapsföretag inte omfattas av Överenskommelsens tillämpningsområde.

38 § AvtL har till skillnad från Överenskommelsen en generell utformning. Av bestämmelsen följer att en konkurrensklausul är tillåten under förutsättning att den är skälig. Av bestämmelsen framgår dock inte vad som krävs för att skälighetsrekvisitet ska vara uppfyllt. Skälighetsrekvisitets otydliga innebörd har skapat ett oklart rättsläge som undergräver funktionen med konkurrensklausuler.

I uppsatsen utreds vad domstolen tar hänsyn till vid sin bedömning om en konkurrensklausul i ett anställningsavtal vid ett kunskapsföretag är skälig enligt 38 § AvtL. Av rättsfallsgenomgången framgår det att domstolen i varje enskilt fall gör en helhetsbedömning av samtliga omständigheter. Prövningen sker i tre led. Domstolen tar först ställning till om konkurrensklausulen omfattas av Överenskommelsens tillämpningsområde eller inte. Om den inte omfattas av tillämpningsområdet så ska domstolen vara restriktiv i sin prövning av klausulens skälighet. Därefter prövar domstolen om klausulen har ett legitimt skyddsintresse. Om domstolen anser att ett sådant skyddsintresse föreligger tar domstolen slutligen ställning till om klausulen är skälig. Vid denna prövning utgår domstolen från ett antal faktorer såsom arbetstagarens ställning, klausulens geografiska omfattning, klausulens bindningstid och arbetstagarens anställningsform.

I uppsatsen analyserar jag även hur det går att uppnå ett mer tydligt och förutsebart rättsläge. Min uppfattning är att vare sig ytterligare lagstiftning eller praxis är lämpliga tillvägagångssätt. Istället anser jag att arbetsmarknadens parter bör upprätta en branschöverenskommelse med riktlinjer för vad som utgör en skälig konkurrensklausul i ett anställningsavtal vid ett kunskapsföretag. På sikt kan en sådan branschöverenskommelse skapa en norm för vad som utgör god sed avseende sådana klausuler.

Rättsläget kan även komma att förtydligas om Överenskommelsens tillämpningsområde utvidgas till att även omfatta kunskapsföretag. För närvarande, dvs. i maj 2015, pågår det omförhandlingar som just syftar till att utvidga Överenskommelsens tillämpningsområde. Min uppfattning är dock att en sådan utvidgning hursomhelst bör kompletteras med branschanpassade riktlinjer.

För det fall rättsläget inte tydliggörs bedömer jag att allt färre arbetsgivare vid kunskapsföretag kommer att använda konkurrensklausuler. Utvecklingen tyder på att s.k. värvningsklausuler kan komma att ersätta konkurrensklausuler. Värvningsklausuler utgör dock inte ett fullgott substitut till konkurrensklausuler eftersom de inte ger ett lika omfattande skydd. Det ligger således i samhällets intresse att åtgärder vidtas för att tydliggöra rättsläget avseende konkurrensklausuler i anställningsavtal vid kunskapsföretag. (Less)
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author
Lindsö, Anna LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Non-competition clauses in employment contracts in knowledge management-companies
course
LAGM01 20151
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
arbetsrätt, avtalsrätt, förmögenhetsrätt, konkurrensklausuler, anställningsavtal, kunskapsföretag, skälighet, 1969 års överenskommelse om konkurrensklausuler, 38 § AvtL
language
Swedish
additional info
E-postadress: aju10ali@student.lu.se

Telefonnummer: 0735-26 30 21

Personnummer: 910629-0563

Datum för examensseminarium:2015-06-04
id
5425981
date added to LUP
2015-06-05 12:16:58
date last changed
2015-06-05 12:16:58
@misc{5425981,
  abstract     = {During the last century, the Swedish society has developed from being an industrial towards becoming a knowledge-based society. As a consequence, so-called knowledge management-companies have come to occupy a central role in society. Knowledge management-companies ́ primary production is knowledge and not matter. Since the employees possess the knowledge, they are the most valuable resources of these companies. Consequently, the employers in these companies are anxious to protect this knowledge.

During the employment the employee is obliged to be loyal to the employer. The duty of loyalty inter alia means that the employer is forbidden to pursue competitive business with the employer. The employer also has a need for protection against competition after the employment. Non-competition clauses offer such protection. Non-competition clauses can be formed in different ways and have different purposes. Typically, they hinder an employee from pursuing competitive business with the employer for a specified period of time. There are rules that regulate the usage of non- competition clauses in the Agreement of 1969 and in Section 38 of the Contracts Act.

The Agreement of 1969 is intended to be used within the production- industry and regulates when a non-competition clause may be used and what conditions it may contain. The Agreement is compulsory if the employer and the employee are members of organizations that are parties to the Agreement and if the company’s business is covered by the Agreement ́s area of application. If these conditions are not fulfilled, Section 38 of the Contracts Act is applicable. The general perception is that the 1969 Agreement ́s area of application does not cover knowledge management- companies.

Unlike the 1969 Agreement, Section 38 of the Contracts Act has a general shape. The rule states that a non-competition clause has to be reasonable. Since the rule does not clarify what conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for a non-competition clause to be reasonable, the meaning of the reasonableness-prerequisite is unclear. Its uncertain meaning has created an unclear legal position that undermines the function of non-competition clauses.

This essay investigates what considerations the court makes in order to determine whether a non–competition clause in an employment contract in a knowledge management-company is reasonable according to Section 38 of the Contracts Act. The court practice shows that the court undertakes an overall assessment based on all circumstances. The assessment is divided into three steps. First, the court determines whether the non-competition clause is covered by the 1969 Agreement. If not, the court is restrictive in its assessment of the non-competition clause. Subsequently, the court assesses whether the non-competition clause has a legitimate interest of protection. If the clause has such an interest the court assesses whether the clause is reasonable. This assessment is based on a number of factors such as the employee ́s position within the company, the geographic scope of the non- competition clause, the binding period of the non-competition clause and the form of the employment contract.

In the essay I also analyze how to clarify the legal position and make it more foreseeable. In my opinion, neither additional law nor court practice are suitable approaches. Instead, I argue that the parties of the labor market should implement an intertrade agreement with guidelines that clarifies what constitutes a reasonable non-competition clause in an employment contract in a knowledge management-company. Eventually, such an intertrade agreement could come to establish a labor market-norm for good practice regarding non-competition clauses in employment contracts in the knowledge management-business.

The legal position could also be made clear if the area of application of the 1969 Agreement expands to also include knowledge management- companies. At present, as of May 2015, there are ongoing renegotiations that primarily aim to expand the area of application of the Agreement. In my opinion such an expansion should, anyhow, be complemented by an intertrade agreement.

If the legal position is not made clear my prediction is that fewer employers will use non-competition clauses. There is a tendency that non-solicitation clauses could come to replace non-competition clauses. Non-solicitation clauses are not an adequate substitute for non-competition clauses though, since their protection is not as extensive. Consequently, there is a public interest that the legal position of non-competition clauses in employment contracts in knowledge management-companies is made clear.},
  author       = {Lindsö, Anna},
  keyword      = {arbetsrätt,avtalsrätt,förmögenhetsrätt,konkurrensklausuler,anställningsavtal,kunskapsföretag,skälighet,1969 års överenskommelse om konkurrensklausuler,38 § AvtL},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Konkurrensklausuler i anställningsavtal vid kunskapsföretag},
  year         = {2015},
}