Michael Lent ordered to pay £165k to former employer Temple Legal Protection

A high court judge has banned the former underwriting director of a legal expenses insurer from competing with his old business or contacting its clients and staff.

Michael James Lent had been the underwriting director of Temple Legal Protection since 2008 and oversaw its commercial after-the-event business.

He left Temple on 28 February to set up his own underwriting agency through Barbican-owned Castel Underwriting Agencies.

Analysis of Lent’s computer commissioned by Temple’s lawyers Gaby Hardwicke revealed that Lent had obtained Temple’s confidential historic premium and claims data and disclosed it to Barbican and Castel. It also found evidence that Lent had sought to encourage another underwriter from Temple to join his new venture.

Temple then started legal proceedings against Lent and applied for an injunction to bar him from using confidential information to compete with his old firm.

The high court last week granted an injunction banning him from setting up any business in the UK that would compete with Temple, from dealing with any of Temple’s clients, attempting to hire its staff or employ anyone who was likely to know confidential information or trade secrets about Temple.

It also ordered Lent to pay £50,000 in damages to Temple and its £115,000 legal costs.

Temple managing director Chris Wait said: “We did not embark upon this litigation lightly. Had Michael been prepared to abide by his legal duties he could have moved on, with our good wishes. But when the full extent of his deceit and dishonesty became apparent we had little choice other than to take swift action to protect the company’s commercial interests.” 

A Castel spokesman said: “Our discussions with potential new business partners are strictly confidential, and we never comment on legal proceedings to which we were not party. We would not, however, ever ask anyone to break a contractual agreement.”

Lent could not be reached for a comment at the time of publication.