Court rules that the 13 employees poached from Towergate must abide by covenants

Towergate declared triumph over Bob Beckett's Insurance Risk Solutions (IRS) as a High Court judge issued an injunction, preventing 13 IRS staff from soliciting Towergate business.

But Beckett responded to the injunction by telling Towergate: "See you in court."

The injunction forces the IRS employees to comply fully with their restrictive covenants and not to make use of Towergate's business information for any purpose pending trial.

The dispute centres on Beckett's Bury St Edmunds-based broker, IRS, part of Total Broker Solutions.

Towergate alleges that Beckett poached a team of 13 from Towergate with the specific intention of targeting its business through a strategy known as the 'Towergate protocol'.

It is alleged that the Towergate protocol was a mechanism to get around the restrictive covenants.

Towergate claims that its former staff were in breach of their restrictive covenants and had actively passed on details of their former clients to colleagues at IRS with the intention of soliciting business.

It also claims Beckett was under restriction which he agreed to when Country Mutual Insurance Brokers (CMIB) was sold to Towergate by NFU Mutual.

Beckett sold his broking firm The Beckett Group to CMIB in January 2004.

Towergate is attempting to seek compensation for business lost to IRS.

Towergate chairman Peter Cullum said: "When somebody accepts a substantial payment in return for their company, they are selling that business not just renting it out.

"Such sellers tend to move on to new challenges or markets, rather than simply pocketing the cash then destabilising their former business and poaching their colleagues and clients back as if nothing had changed."

He warned: "I fully anticipate this will end up to be a very expensive and ill-timed journey for Mr Beckett."

Beckett responded: "All I can say is that we look forward to battling it out in court."