Wednesday, July 27, 2022

High Court reporter

A qualified swimming instructor has agreed to abide by the terms of a High Court injunction restraining him from giving swimming lessons anywhere within a five-mile radius of his former employer’s premises until mid-October.

The injunction was granted by a High Court judge last month in favour of Limerick-based Swim Max Limited, which is seeking to enforce the terms of a restrictive covenant it claims formed part of Ricardo Rojas’s contract of employment.

It was claimed that Mr Rojas, with an address in Limerick City, left the company in late April.

Swim Max alleged that he breached the terms of his contract by giving lessons at a pool in the Limerick area before the six-month period, which was due to expire on October 22nd.

The injunction also prevents Mr Rojas 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 six months after he departed the firm.

When the matter returned before the High Court on Wednesday, Mr Rojas said he was prepared to abide by the six-month covenant.

He disputed claims made against him by the company when the matter was previously before the court and told the judge that he wished to be heard on the matter.

‘Toxic’ working conditions

Representing himself, Mr Rojas accepted that he had been an employee of the company but had left it.

He went on to describe working conditions at Swim Max as “stressful” and “toxic” which had adversely affected both his mental and physical health.

He said he was not currently working and was in receipt of rent allowance.

He also expressed his fear that like many others, he could end up homeless.

He added that he would dispute any cost orders sought against him.

The company, represented in the proceedings by Jack Nicholas Bl, denied Mr Rojas’s claims.

Counsel said that his client wanted the injunction extended to October and added that there had been difficulties serving Mr Rojas with documents warning him that proceedings could be taken.

Court documents had been served at the pool where he was allegedly giving lessons, and at his mother’s residence at Rossadrehid, Bansha in Co Tipperary, the court previously heard.

Injunction

Mr Justice Dignam agreed to extend the injunction to October 22nd next, when the covenant is due to expire.

On that date the court will consider any application for the costs of the proceedings.

The judge said that the sides should adopt a practical position regarding any application for costs.

In a sworn statement to the court seeking the order, the firm’s founder and owner Diana Daly said she had discovered that the defendant, who joined the firm in 2020, had been giving swimming lessons at another pool in the Limerick area shortly afterwards.

She said she did not know exactly how many of Swim Max’s students had left to be trained by Mr Rojas, which she said would damage the firm’s reputation.

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 that she established the business, which she co-runs with her husband Jason Daly, almost 15 years ago.

She said that all of 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 Swim Max develops elsewhere.

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