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Konkurrensklausulers utformning och verkan, särskilt om skälighetsbedömningen

Winther Lundquist, Camilla LU (2015) LAGM01 20151
Department of Law
Abstract
The purpose of this essay is to examine the content and effect of non-competition clauses, with a particular focus on the fairness of these clauses. To examine this a traditional legal method is used. Though some aspects are unclear regarding the legal situation concerning the right for an employer to unilaterally reduce and withdraw from a non-competition clause, interviews have been used to examine these questions. How non-competition clauses forms has also been examined by interviews. The interviews have been done with lawyers and an associate from five law firms.

The legal background is that an employer through the general duty of loyalty enjoys a good proctection against competing activities, during an employee’s period of... (More)
The purpose of this essay is to examine the content and effect of non-competition clauses, with a particular focus on the fairness of these clauses. To examine this a traditional legal method is used. Though some aspects are unclear regarding the legal situation concerning the right for an employer to unilaterally reduce and withdraw from a non-competition clause, interviews have been used to examine these questions. How non-competition clauses forms has also been examined by interviews. The interviews have been done with lawyers and an associate from five law firms.

The legal background is that an employer through the general duty of loyalty enjoys a good proctection against competing activities, during an employee’s period of employment. This duty of loyalty, however, has no effect after the employment has ended. Only business secrets are protected then. Therefore many employers use non-competition clauses. The possibility to use non-competition clauses is however limited in different ways. Such a clause should protect company knowledge, and may not only be introduced to stop a worker competing with his or her former employer. If a non-competition clause shall be considered fair, it must be specified and economic compensation should be paid during the non-competition period.

All five law firms agreed that it is permitted to unilaterally withdraw from a non-competition clause, with the result that the employer avoids to pay the economic compensation. It may seem surprising, but an important point of the 1969 collective agreement is that the economic compensation should only serve as compensation for the loss that it means for an employee to refrain from their profession. It shall not have any social purpose. What the law firms do not agree about is whether such a dismissal can be done directly or if a reasonable period of notice must be observed. My opinion is that an employer can withdraw from an non-competiton clause if the employee is giving a reasonable period of notice. What reasonable period of notice is, should be established by AD by studying other similar agreements.

If the non-competition clause is too extensive the employer risks that the clause according to section 38 of the Contract Act (1915:218) declares void. To escape nullity an employer may want to reduce the non-competition clause in retrospect, for example by shortening the non-compete period or make it geographically, occupationally or otherwise less extensive. It is clear that a unilaterally reduction of a non-competition clause can be done. What is unclear today is at what time such a reduction shall be made in order to be taken into consideration, when assessing reasonableness. The question is whether a non-competition clause may be unilaterally reduced during the entire period of notice up to the ending of the employment relationship, or if that opportunity expires when the employee resigns. My opinion is that it is likely that AD in the future will give an employer the right to unilaterally reduce a non-competition clause, during an employee’s period of notice. This view is not supported by all law firms and the swedish legal doctrine is also divided. The argument for this position, however, has the strongest legal grounding.

Another way for the employers to protect against competing activities is to use non-solicitation clauses. Such a clause is less restrictive than a non-competition clause. Therefore it can be used against employees who do not possess the knowledge required for a non-competition clause to be valid. When using non-solicitation clauses, it is not certain that economic compensation need to be paid. What emerged was that some law firms use both non-competition clauses and non-solicitation clauses. If the non-competition clause according to section 38 of the Contract Act (1915:218) declares void, the non-solicitation clause remains. The general perception of the interviewed, are that non-solicitations clauses seem more allowed than non-competition clauses. This is also my opinion, with an emphasis on more allowed. AD tries the non-solicitation clauses as a form of non-competition clause, but such clauses are according to case law allowed in a greater extent. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Uppsatsens syfte är att undersöka konkurrensklausulers utformning och verkan, med särskilt fokus på skälighetsbedömningen av sådana klausuler. I uppsatsen används en traditionell rättsvetenskaplig metod. Då rättsläget i viss mån är outrett beträffande arbetsgivarens rätt att ensidigt begränsa eller frånträda en konkurrensklausul, har empiriskt material använts gällande dessa frågeställningar. Frågeställningen gällande hur konkurrensklausuler utformas har också undersökts med hjälp av empiriskt material, bestående av intervjuer med advokater och en biträdande jurist från fem advokatbyråer.

Den rättsliga bakgrunden är att en arbetsgivare genom den allmänna lojalitetsplikten i ett anställningsförhållande, innehar ett gott skydd mot... (More)
Uppsatsens syfte är att undersöka konkurrensklausulers utformning och verkan, med särskilt fokus på skälighetsbedömningen av sådana klausuler. I uppsatsen används en traditionell rättsvetenskaplig metod. Då rättsläget i viss mån är outrett beträffande arbetsgivarens rätt att ensidigt begränsa eller frånträda en konkurrensklausul, har empiriskt material använts gällande dessa frågeställningar. Frågeställningen gällande hur konkurrensklausuler utformas har också undersökts med hjälp av empiriskt material, bestående av intervjuer med advokater och en biträdande jurist från fem advokatbyråer.

Den rättsliga bakgrunden är att en arbetsgivare genom den allmänna lojalitetsplikten i ett anställningsförhållande, innehar ett gott skydd mot illojal konkurrens under en arbetstagarens anställningstid. Denna lojalitetsplikt har ingen efterverkan. Det enda som skyddas efter att en arbetstagarens anställning upphört, är företagshemligheter. Detta är bakgrunden till att en arbetsgivare ofta vill införa en konkurrensklausul i arbetstagarens anställningsavtal. Möjligheten att införa konkurrensklausuler, är dock på olika sätt begränsad. En sådan klausul ska skydda företagsspecifik kunskap och får inte införas enbart för att kvarhålla en arbetstagare. Konkurrensklausulen ska vara specificerad och ekonomisk kompensation ska utgå under konkurrensklausulens bindningstid, för att klausulen ska anses skälig.

De fem advokatbyråerna är överens om att det är tillåtet att ensidigt frånträda en konkurrensklausul, vilket får till följd att arbetsgivaren undgår att utge den ekonomiska kompensationen. Det kan tyckas överraskande, men en viktig utgångspunkt i 1969 års överenskommelse är att den ekonomiska kompensationen enbart ska utgöra kompensation för den förlust som det innebär att avstå från att utöva sitt yrke. Den ska inte ha något socialt syfte. Det som advokatbyråerna inte är överens om är om en sådan uppsägning kan göras direkt eller om skälig uppsägningstid måste iakttas. Min uppfattning är att en arbetsgivare utan en skrivelse om uppsägningstid, kan frånträda en konkurrensklausul med skälig uppsägningstid. Vad som utgör skälig uppsägningstid, är något som AD genom att studera andra liknande avtal bör fastställa.

Om konkurrensklausulen är för omfattande riskerar arbetsgivaren att klausulen ogiltigförklaras enligt 38§ AvtL. För att undkomma ogiltighet vill en arbetsgivare begränsa konkurrensklausulen i efterhand, genom att exempelvis förkorta konkurrensklausulens bindningstid eller på annat sätt göra den mindre omfattande. Det är klart att en ensidig begränsning av en konkurrensklausul får göras. Vad som är oklart idag är vid vilken tidpunkt en sådan begränsning ska göras, för att den ska få beaktas vid skälighetsbedömningen. Frågan är om en konkurrensklausul får begränsas ensidigt under hela uppsägningstiden, eller den möjligheten upphör i det ögonblick när arbetstagaren säger upp sig. Min bedömning är att AD i ett eventuellt framtida mål förmodligen skulle ge en arbetsgivare rätt att ensidigt begränsa en konkurrensklausul, under hela arbetstagarens uppsägningstid. Den uppfattningen stödjs dock inte av alla advokatbyråer och även doktrin är delad på denna punkt. Argumenten för denna ståndpunkt har dock störst tyngd enligt rättskälleläran.

Ett annat sätt att skydda sig mot konkurrens är att använda sig av värvningsklausuler. En sådan klausul är inte lika inskränkande som en konkurrensklausul. Det gör att den kan användas mot sådana anställda, som inte besitter sådan kunskap som skulle göra att en konkurrensklausul skulle vara giltig. Det är inte säkert att det behöver utgå ekonomisk kompensation vid en värvningsklausul. En del advokatbyråer kombinerar konkurrensklausuler med värvningsklausuler. Om konkurrensklausulen ogiltigförklaras enligt 38§ AvtL, finns värvningsklausulen kvar. Det sammanfattande intrycket från intervjuerna är att värvningsklausuler verkar vara mer tillåtna än konkurrensklausuler. Det är också min uppfattning, med betoning på mer tillåtna. AD prövar värvningsklausulerna som en form av konkurrensklausul, men enligt rättspraxis tillåts sådana klausuler i större utsträckning. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Winther Lundquist, Camilla LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Non-competition clauses content and effect, with focus on the fairness
course
LAGM01 20151
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
arbetsrätt, konkurrensklausul
language
Swedish
id
5435357
date added to LUP
2015-06-11 20:31:34
date last changed
2015-06-11 20:31:34
@misc{5435357,
  abstract     = {The purpose of this essay is to examine the content and effect of non-competition clauses, with a particular focus on the fairness of these clauses. To examine this a traditional legal method is used. Though some aspects are unclear regarding the legal situation concerning the right for an employer to unilaterally reduce and withdraw from a non-competition clause, interviews have been used to examine these questions. How non-competition clauses forms has also been examined by interviews. The interviews have been done with lawyers and an associate from five law firms. 

The legal background is that an employer through the general duty of loyalty enjoys a good proctection against competing activities, during an employee’s period of employment. This duty of loyalty, however, has no effect after the employment has ended. Only business secrets are protected then. Therefore many employers use non-competition clauses. The possibility to use non-competition clauses is however limited in different ways. Such a clause should protect company knowledge, and may not only be introduced to stop a worker competing with his or her former employer. If a non-competition clause shall be considered fair, it must be specified and economic compensation should be paid during the non-competition period. 

All five law firms agreed that it is permitted to unilaterally withdraw from a non-competition clause, with the result that the employer avoids to pay the economic compensation. It may seem surprising, but an important point of the 1969 collective agreement is that the economic compensation should only serve as compensation for the loss that it means for an employee to refrain from their profession. It shall not have any social purpose. What the law firms do not agree about is whether such a dismissal can be done directly or if a reasonable period of notice must be observed. My opinion is that an employer can withdraw from an non-competiton clause if the employee is giving a reasonable period of notice. What reasonable period of notice is, should be established by AD by studying other similar agreements. 

If the non-competition clause is too extensive the employer risks that the clause according to section 38 of the Contract Act (1915:218) declares void. To escape nullity an employer may want to reduce the non-competition clause in retrospect, for example by shortening the non-compete period or make it geographically, occupationally or otherwise less extensive. It is clear that a unilaterally reduction of a non-competition clause can be done. What is unclear today is at what time such a reduction shall be made in order to be taken into consideration, when assessing reasonableness. The question is whether a non-competition clause may be unilaterally reduced during the entire period of notice up to the ending of the employment relationship, or if that opportunity expires when the employee resigns. My opinion is that it is likely that AD in the future will give an employer the right to unilaterally reduce a non-competition clause, during an employee’s period of notice. This view is not supported by all law firms and the swedish legal doctrine is also divided. The argument for this position, however, has the strongest legal grounding. 

Another way for the employers to protect against competing activities is to use non-solicitation clauses. Such a clause is less restrictive than a non-competition clause. Therefore it can be used against employees who do not possess the knowledge required for a non-competition clause to be valid. When using non-solicitation clauses, it is not certain that economic compensation need to be paid. What emerged was that some law firms use both non-competition clauses and non-solicitation clauses. If the non-competition clause according to section 38 of the Contract Act (1915:218) declares void, the non-solicitation clause remains. The general perception of the interviewed, are that non-solicitations clauses seem more allowed than non-competition clauses. This is also my opinion, with an emphasis on more allowed. AD tries the non-solicitation clauses as a form of non-competition clause, but such clauses are according to case law allowed in a greater extent.},
  author       = {Winther Lundquist, Camilla},
  keyword      = {arbetsrätt,konkurrensklausul},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Konkurrensklausulers utformning och verkan, särskilt om skälighetsbedömningen},
  year         = {2015},
}