Non-compete agreements must be in writing and signed. That may seem obvious to most business owners, but not to the owner of a Jefferson, Maine auto titling business, who recently sought an injunction against the business run by her former assistant on the basis of a non-compete agreement. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the assistant never signed the agreement. The assistant filed a motion for summary judgement, and the Maine Business and Consumer Court granted it, ruling that “agreements not to compete are within the Statute of Frauds” and thus required to be in writing.
This plaintiff’s painful lesson is valuable to all business owners: if you want to hold your employees to contracts, especially after they no longer work for you, those contracts had better be in writing.