Resources: Blog

Sports agency sues former employees for poaching clients


Who's with me?

A recent dispute between one of Australia’s leading sports agencies and two of its ex-employees is a reminder to employers about the importance of implementing processes to protect confidential information, including that of their customers and clients.

A recent dispute between one of Australia’s leading sports agencies and two of it's ex-employees is a reminder to employers about the importance of implementing processes to protect confidential information, including that of their customers and clients.

Ultra Management Sports, an agency that represents many elite rugby league and rugby union players, commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia, claiming that two of it's player agents amended player/agent contracts without authorisation. The alleged amendments included the insertion of clauses which allowed those players to leave the agency if and when those agents eventually left.

Ultra is claiming that the contracts were amended following an update to the NRL player agent contract policy, which included a clause in new contracts that would tie clients to their agents, and not the company that the agents worked for. The agents allegedly amended the existing contracts of 16 players despite the policy stating that existing contracts were not affected by the policy change and they would simply run their course. The agents subsequently created their own sports agency and a number of their clients then joined that new agency.

Ultra is seeking damages resulting from the conduct of the agents, which it claims amounted to an illegal poaching of clients and a failure to act in the best interests of their then-employer.

A 5-day hearing of the matter in the Federal Court of Australia recently ended on 8 October 2019, with the Court reserving its decision.

Whilst we await the outcome, this matter is a prime example of why employers should ensure that they have adequation protections in place to regulate what an employee can and cannot do during their employment, including authorisation to amend contracts with clients.

Employers should also ensure that their employment contracts appropriately deal with what an employee can and cannot do with the employer’s confidential information, and that of its customers and clients, both during and after employment. The more senior an employee is in the business, the more stringent those protections or limitations should be.

It is also an important lesson for athletes to ensure that they fully understand what their rights and obligations will be under any contract, and that their management team is acting in their best interests. Managing contracts can be complex as there are a number of things to consider, such as contracts with clubs, sporting organisations, third party sponsors and even contracts with player agents themselves.

It is therefore crucial that athletes understand what their obligations are and that they trust the advisors they partner with to act in their best interests.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

Key Takeaways from our Webinar

Managing Workplace Behaviour: "You Get What You Tolerate"

In our August webinar, our Managing Director and Principal, Athena Koelmeyer, discussed the challenges faced by modern employers when managing workplace behaviour. In that webinar, Athena examined a number of recent unfair dismissal decisions of the Fair Work Commission which provide some good guidance for employers.


Salary reduction brought employee under high income threshold

Below not above

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has significantly impacted the financial stability of many businesses. Employers have had to make difficult decisions and implement different measures to ensure the ongoing viability of their businesses. Some of these measures have included asking employees to agree to temporary reductions in their hours of work or to a reduction in their remuneration.


Managing employee conduct and behaviour in the workplace

Draw the line

Managing employee conduct and behaviour can be a challenge. The question of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate in the workplace will depend on a variety of factors, including the industry in which the employees work, the overall culture of the workplace and community standards at any given time.


Fair Work Commission accepts that role with additional travel time was acceptable redeployment employment

The daily commute

Employers have long known that they are obliged to try to find new employment opportunities for employees who are faced with the redundancy of their current role.


FWC upholds objection to constructive dismissal claim

Construction zone

In order to access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction, an employee must be “dismissed” from their employment by the employer. One of the instances in which an employee may be “dismissed” from their employment is if they were forced to resign because of the employer’s conduct or course of conduct.


Court penalises accountant for involvement in employer’s failure to keep employee records

Put your records on

The Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) impose a number of obligations on employers with respect to the making and keeping of employee records and pay slips.


Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.