Mr Justice Dove indicated that a trial should start in June
A judge has upheld an injunction preventing former Bluefin chief executive Mike Bruce from approaching any Bluefin staff to offer them a job.
The order also prevents Bruce, now retail chief executive at rival broker Global Risk Partners (GRP), from arranging any employment between a Bluefin employee and GRP.
But Bluefin’s lawyers said that rather than being subject to the court order, they would accept undertakings from Bruce and GRP that they would not approach Bluefin staff.
On Tuesday 8 February Bluefin obtained an injunction against Bruce, GRP and two Bluefin staff.
In a hearing at the High Court today (Friday 12 February) , Bruce and GRP tried to challenge the injunction.
Bluefin has accused Bruce of breaching his covenant by trying to induce individuals in Bluefin to encourage other staff to leave the broker and join GRP.
Law firm Doyle Clayton, acting for Bluefin, alleged that the activities involved staff at a number of Bluefin’s branches, including Newmarket and Ludlow.
Today at the hearing they presented more evidence to support their injunction.
Bluefin’s lawyers claimed the evidence they had uncovered indicated that Bruce’s activities were just the tip of the iceberg.
They added the injunction needed to remain in place until the trial to prevent GRP from taking Bluefin’s staff.
But law firm Fox Williams, acting for Bruce and GRP, claimed that Bluefin’s evidence was based on hearsay and denied that Bruce had any material dealings with individuals it was alleged he had tried to induce.
They also argued that the scope of the injunction was too wide because it prevented employees that wanted to leave Bluefin of their own volition from approaching GRP directly.
Fox Williams also argued over the type of staff Bruce could and could not approach within a year of his departure as defined by his covenant.
After listening to both parties, Mr Justice Dove said that on the basis of the evidence, of which some was circumstantial, there was justification to keep the injunction in place.
He also said that Bluefin was not the only source of employees in the insurance industry for GRP to choose from and added that a four month injunction would not damage GRP’s business model.
He also said a speedy trial would reduce the impact on GRP of any Bluefin staff who wanted to approach them directly.
He indicated that the trial should start in June.
Lawyers for both parties have been asked to come up with an appropriate date for trial.
At the end of the hearing Bluefin’s lawyers said they were happy to accept a promise from the defendants to abide by the terms of the restricted covenant.
The judge is expecting further submissions to be made by two other defendants in the case.
Commenting after the hearing, GRP said: “Following on from the issue of proceedings without notice on Monday by Bluefin, GRP and Mike Bruce today gave the court a number of undertakings relating to the action taken by Bluefin.
”We are happy to give those undertakings as we believe we have not breached any contractual obligation and have no intention of doing so. No wrongdoing has been proven and we now look forward to an early trial to deal with the allegations made.”
Bluefin and Bruce declined to comment.