The general position in Ireland is that restrictive covenants are void and unenforceable as restraints of trade. However, the Irish courts will permit limited exceptions to that general position, but only in circumstances where the employer can demonstrate that (1) it has a legitimate business interest to protect; and (2) the relevant restriction goes no further than is reasonably necessary to protect that interest.
In order to ensure the greatest chance of enforceability, restrictive covenants should be drafted as narrowly as possible. For example, in deciding whether to enforce a restriction, the Irish courts will examine how each of the below have been drafted and whether they go beyond what is necessary to protect the employer's legitimate business interest:
- the conduct that is sought to be restricted
- the geographical scope of the restriction the duration of the restriction.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.