Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Flow sues former boss, Digicel over departure

Published:Friday | April 10, 2015 | 11:02 PM
Sean Latty

Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited, trading as Flow, has taken its former managing director Sean Latty and Digicel Jamaica Limited to court seeking orders to bind Latty to his contract of employment with Flow.

The defendants are being sued for breach of contract and breach of trade clauses. Digicel is accused of inducing a breach of Latty's contract with Flow when it hired Latty in February to one of its top positions. The claimant states that there were clauses in the contract banning Latty for six months from working with any of its business competitors after the termination of his contract. Latty had tendered a written notice on February 11 for his resignation to take effect on May 10.

The claimant will be seeking injunctions from the Supreme Court to enforce the notice period and trade clauses in the contract of employment with Latty. It is further seeking an order to prevent Digicel from employing Latty in breach of his contract with the claimant. Latty had first worked with Digicel in senior positions from 2001 to 2013.

The claimant contends that Latty was employed to Flow under a contract dated December 12, 2014 as managing director. The agreement, it is claimed, was that Latty would keep all of the claimant's information that was confidential in nature and acquired during the course of his employment. The claimant contends that the agreement stated that the confidential information would survive the termination of his employment and he would not work for any competitor for the next six months. Latty is accused of breaching his contract with Flow when he began working with Digicel on February 12, while his notice period subsisted.

Lawyers representing the claimant will be arguing at the hearing for an injunction that the position Latty holds at Digicel is comparable to the position he held at the claimant's company, and that all confidential information given to him and to which he had access at Columbus is relevant to the position he holds at Digicel.

The information, they say, will provide Latty and Digicel with an extensive commercial advantage if he uses it in the performance of his duties at Digicel.

In court documents, the claimant states that "it may be assumed in law that Digicel is and/or was aware of the said notice of obligation and restraint of trade clauses. By employing Mr Latty in breach of both, Digicel procured a breach by Mr Latty of his contract with Columbus by reason of which Columbus has suffered loss and damage."

It is also stated that on March 12, Latty sent an email asking to be taken off Columbus' payroll. He was then informed that the company was obligated to continue to pay him his full emoluments of employment. The claimant contends that the email was sent because Latty had already started working with Digicel and the terms of his negotiated departure were not as favourable as he would have liked.

The Claimant which is being represented by attorney-at-law Conrad George, instructed by the law firm Hart Muirhead Fatta, is seeking declarations and damages against the defendants.

"Digicel will be fighting the case," said Michael Hylton QC who is representing Digicel. He added that Latty is in charge of Digicel's mobile division and Flow has no such division. He said Latty started working with Digicel last month and it was published in the newspapers that Latty was going to work with Flow but the suit was not filed until March 27 and Flow did not get the injunction it was seeking against the defendants on that date.

Latty has not yet filed a defence to the suit.

The parties will appear in the Supreme Court on April 29 when the claimant will apply for an injunction.