East End firm Wallace Bogan & Co has lost a court battle aimed at preventing three of its former assistants from canvassing its clients.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that the three, who wrote to clients the day after their gardening leave at the firm had expired, did nothing unlawful.
Lifting an injunction placed on Sarah Cove, Amanda Dench and Hayder Al-Hassan, Lord Justice Leggatt said "there was no express contractual reason" why they should not have written to clients once their notice had expired.
He said Wallace Bogan could have protected itself simply by putting an express term in its contracts with the employees. "Employers are not protected by an implied term if they do not bother to exact an express term," he ruled.
Cove, Dench and Al-Hassan gave in their notices at Wallace Bogan last year and were put on gardening leave until Christmas Eve.
On Christmas day they set up a new firm, Miles & Partners, based in Middlesex Street in the City, and wrote to clients telling them that they had left their old firm. The clients, they said, were free to instruct the new firm or continue with Wallace Bogan.