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Team Moves and Springboard Injunctions

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[Thanks to Katherine Apps of Littleton Chambers for providing this case summary]

Harry Potter, Bat Phones, Fantasy Football and Three bells on the fruit machine; unlikely facts for a team move case but all feature in QBE Management Services (UK) Ltd v Dymoke and others. The Claimant succeeded in obtaining, after an expedited trial, 'springboard' relief to restrain three former employees and their financial backer from commencing a competing business. The case is believed to be the first example of springboard relief being granted as final relief on the basis of breach of fiduciary duty and breaches of an employee's duty of fidelity. In addition to injunctive relief, QBE also recovered damages and indemnity costs.

The Judgment is a useful 'one stop shop' for the legal principles which apply in team move cases. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave undertakes an extensive review of the case law in particular on the duty to self report or to report the misconduct of others (see paras 169-216). He additionally considers the extent of the relief that may be granted to neutralise a springboard advantage. Eight principles of springboard relief are distilled at paras 239-247; these are analysed at 248-294.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave found that two employees, one of whom owed fiduciary duties, had solicited a third and planned a competing business which would "rip the heart" of out of part of QBE's marine insurance business. Confidential information was used in order to garner financial support for an external backer. The eventual plan involved the use of an external recruitment agent which the cour found to have been a sham to conceal the solicitation of fellow employees.