Canada: The HR Space: The Irony of Irreparable Harm

Last Updated: February 18 2013
Article by Bruce R. Grist

The HR Space is edited by Louise Béchamp, Karen M. Sargeant and Brian P. Smeenk

Conventional wisdom suggests that because a non-solicitation clause is more likely to be enforced by a court than a non-competition clause, why bother including a non-competition clause in an employment agreement. The B.C. Court of Appeal's decision in Edward Jones v. Voldeng (PDF) suggests that there is still value in including a non-competition clause. Why? It may be easier to demonstrate irreparable harm, one of the requirements to obtain an injunction, when a former employee has breached a non-competition clause.


In this case, the B.C. Court of Appeal considered whether a court should grant an injunction in order to enforce a non-solicitation clause. Edward Jones was the former employer of the departing employee (Voldeng). Voldeng had left Edward Jones and had gone to work for another employer. Voldeng had an employment contract with Edward Jones that prohibited him from soliciting the customers of Edward Jones for a period of six months after he left Edward Jones.

Prior to leaving Edward Jones, Voldeng managed accounts for Edward Jones totalling approximately $46 million. Within a couple of weeks of leaving, approximately $20 million of those accounts had transferred from Edward Jones to the new employer with Voldeng.

Test for an Injunction

In order to obtain an injunction, a party seeking an injunction must show:

  1. There is a serious question to be tried;
  2. The applicant (former employer) will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted; and
  3. The balance of convenience favours granting the injunction.

What's Irreparable Harm?

The Edward Jones case deals with the issue of irreparable harm. If the damages can be calculated such that a specific amount can be awarded for the loss of the clients, there is no irreparable harm and an injunction will not be granted.

Generally, there are two types of irreparable harm. The first is harm that cannot be quantified in monetary terms, such as permanent market loss or irrevocable damage to business reputation. The second is harm that cannot be compensated for by an award of damages because it is unlikely that damages can be collected from the defendant.

No Irreparable Harm Here

The Court of Appeal said that the value of the portfolio of a departing employee is generally known, as well as the money made by the brokerage firm with respect to managing the portfolio. In effect, Edward Jones could show that the value of the Edward Jones' clients which had transferred to the new employer with Voldeng was $20.2 million. Since Edward Jones could show the actual loss it would experience, the Court found that there was no irreparable harm. As such, although it said that there was a strong prima facie case that Voldeng improperly solicited his clients, it would not order an injunction to prevent the clients from being solicited by Voldeng and his new employer.

Irreparable Harm more Likely with Non-Competition Clause

The Court went on to compare the loss suffered by Edward Jones with respect to the potential breach of a non-solicitation clause with the loss suffered by a potential breach of a non-competition clause. A non-competition clause prevents a departing employee from competing with his/her former employer. 

The Court stated that in a non-competition situation, the former employer will not necessarily be able to establish the loss due to the prohibited competition. Since the employer may not be able to determine what its potential loss would be, the former employer is more likely to be able to establish irreparable harm, provided the former employer meets the other tests for an injunction based on a non-competition covenant.

The Impact on Employers

The impact of the Edward Jones v. Voldeng decision is that employers have to decide how to properly draft restrictive covenants according to the nature of the business involved, and the potential damage to the employer. Non-competition clauses will be more enforceable with respect to the issue of proof of irreparable harm in order to obtain an injunction. However, non-competition clauses are more likely to be struck down as being contrary to public policy, vague or overly broad. There's the irony. 

The moral of the story is that employers should be very aware of the potential risks of employees who are their customer contacts leaving them and taking the business with them. A non-solicitation clause may give rise to an award of damages suffered by the former employer, but it may not prevent the loss of the customers. The Court made reference to the fact that it was not approving the conduct of Voldeng. Whether there was a breach of Voldeng's employment obligations was left to be determined at trial.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.