Swimming teacher cannot give lessons within 5 miles of former employer, court rules

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Swimming Teacher Cannot Give Lessons Within 5 Miles Of Former Employer, Court Rules Swimming Teacher Cannot Give Lessons Within 5 Miles Of Former Employer, Court Rules
The injunction was granted in favour of Limerick-based Swim Max Limited against Ricardo Rojas by Mr Justice Conor Dignam on Friday afternoon. Photo: Getty Images
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High court reporters

The owners of a company that teaches people to swim has secured a High Court injunction restraining one of its former employees from giving swimming lessons anywhere within a five-mile radius of the firm's premises.

The injunction was granted in favour of Limerick-based Swim Max Limited against Ricardo Rojas by Mr Justice Conor Dignam on Friday afternoon.

The injunction restrains Mr Rojas with an address in Limerick City, from giving swimming lessons within the five-mile radius.

He left the company in late April, it is alleged.

Trade secrets

It also prevents him from utilising any of the company's trade secrets and confidential information in relation to training techniques or carry on in competition with Swim Max for the next few months.

The company, represented in the proceedings by Jack Nicholas Bl, claims that by giving the lessons Mr Rojas has breached the contract of employment he signed when he commenced working with Swim Max.

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The contract, counsel said, contained a 'restrict clause' or covenant that prevents Swim Max's employees from utilising its methods or coaching swimming within the specified geographical area for six months after they depart the firm.

The judge said that he was satisfied to put an injunction in place, but only for a period of three weeks.

Mr Rojas was not in court for the hearing.

Short period

The judge said while he was satisfied that the defendant had been served with the proceedings and was aware the action had been listed before the court, he was only prepared to put an injunction in place for a short period.

The judge said the defendant may make any submissions he wishes regarding the order when the matter is next before the court.

In addition, Mr Rojas was granted liberty to apply to the court to seek to remove or alter the order before the case returns before the Court

In a sworn statement to the court seeking the order the firm's founder and owner Ms Diana Daly said Mr Rojas left in April, but she had subsequently discovered that he had been giving swimming lessons at another pool in the Limerick area.

Students

She said the company does not know exactly how many of its students have left to be trained by Mr Rojas. He is in breach of the restrictive covenant she claimed  and Swim Max fears that it will suffer reputational damage if the injunction was not granted, she said. 

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Mrs Daly, who is a former national swimming champion in her native Lithuania as well as being a coach to high performance and Olympic athletes, said she established the business, which she co-runs with her husband Jason Daly, almost 15 years ago.

The firm offers lessons to very young infants to adults, from its own facility at Delta Retail Park in Limerick and from other private pools in the Limerick area.

She said she has developed the firm's own unique programmes and teaching programme for its students, and that its services are very popular.

She said that all the firm's swimming coaches are subject to a restrictive covenant in their contract of employment which prevents them taking the benefit of the programmes elsewhere.

Lessons

Mr Rojas, she said joined the company in 2020 as a swimming instructor.

She said that last March he informed the company that he was leaving to work for Uber as he "wanted to do something different."

Mrs Daly said that last month was informed that Mr Rojas was teaching swimming to some of her firm's customers at a leisure centre pool in the Limerick area.

She was very surprised by this.  She said that she and her husband observed Mr Rojas giving a swimming lesson to children at the centre.

She said they approached him, and reminded him of the terms of his contract of employment with Swim Max. She said that in reply to Mr Rojas said he was doing it "for a bit of extra cash."

She told him he had to stop, but said that he answered with a smile on his face and said "What are you going to do? Bring me to court?"

She said she told him she would have to take legal action if she had to and subsequently issued legal proceedings. She added that there had been difficulties in serving Mr Rojas with the proceedings.

Court documents had been served at the Leisure Centre where he is allegedly giving lessons, and at his mother's residence at Rossadrehid, Bansha in Co Tipperary.

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