Vet free to practise

Posted: 11th October 2012

A High Court judge has refused to issue an interim injunction restraining a veterinarian from working in her profession within a 10-mile radius of a practice in which she was formerly a partner with her estranged husband.

Mrs Justice Asplin said that to enforce the restrictive covenant and restrain Catherine Scott from practising in her profession within an exclusion zone around the Isle Practice’s branches in Littleport and Ely, Cambridgeshire, could prevent her from working at all and restrict her ability to provide for her two young children.

CowsMrs Scott was in the process of divorcing her husband, David Scott, who was one of her partners in the Isle Practice for more than 20 years. The exclusion zone, which was to remain in force for three years and did not take in the city of Cambridge, was incorporated into the practice’s partnership deed along with a ‘non-poaching covenant’ barring former partners from soliciting established clients.

Lawyers for Mrs Scott argued that enforcement of the exclusion zone would disproportionately hamper her ability to earn a living and support her children. She had pinpointed a property within the zone to develop as a new veterinary practice but had had to put her plans on hold pending the outcome of the legal dispute.

The judge said that she had to balance the legitimate interests of the Isle Practice as an established business against those of Mrs Scott, who faced difficulties working outside the ten-mile radius given her childcare responsibilities. ‘Although these matters are very finely balanced, my judgment is that it would be inappropriate to grant the relief sought’, she concluded.