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The title pretty much says it all: I am working for Company A and am now leaving. Their clients, Client A, B, C and D all really like the work I do and have personally commented to me about how useful and well done it is.

When I leave, is there anything legally stopping me from contacting Clients A, B, C and D and offering them the same services but on a freelance basis?

I appreciate that they may have loyalty to Company A and that they may inform Company A that I have offered them the same services outside of the Company A environment which could jeapordise my reference, but that isn't what my question is about - I want to know, in legal terms, if I can do this.

As far as I am aware, there is nothing in my contract stating that an employee can't do this post-employment (basically, it doesn't say that I can't do it).

I am based in London, England.

(Also note that I couldn't find one specific tag that is suitable for this question; if you are able to categorise it explicitly, then please do so.)

7

It is a grey area. If you do not have a non-compete, send out an email to the clients thanking them for the time working with them and let them know you have left to go on your own and appreciate everything the company did for you and tell them they are in good hands with your replacement. Have a detailed signature perhaps your linkedin account.

You have praised your former employer, said they will do a great job even with you gone, and you are appreciative of the time there. How can the company argue with that? You made them look good and you have not directly solicited the clients. However, the clients that are more attached to you than the company can find you if they so desire and that is certainly not your fault.

  • This is the difference between marketing and sales. The clients can look you up if they want to, you can then sell to them if they do (or not, if they are b3ll3nds). All of it is a natural progression, with no reason for resentment from the former employer. Also, direct poaching makes you look like a tw@, and you never know when you might cross paths with your former employer – JohnHC Apr 3 '17 at 14:31
  • I actually did this very thing when I worked at a contract development company and I kept in touch with a couple of past clients that I had a good relationship with. I had a two year non-compete but I kept contacts on LinkedIn and some of those clients reached out to me when I began soliciting my services years later. Once you leave a company, it's good to keep in contact professionally and build a relationship as it'll help your business prospects down the line. As an old career advisor told me, "Always be networking." – Michael Celey Apr 4 '17 at 15:48
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If you have non-compete clause (NCC) in the contact, then it's illegal indeed.

If not, then it's not morally right. And if I am the client, I would never break relations with my contractor, I am happy with working cheaper with his ex worker.

On your side, it's a bit suspicious why a client would want to work with you. Is it only quality of your services, or he plans to delay with payments, be a general as****e, etc.

Lastly, go to a legal counselor and ask him this question. He will know the regulations of your own country.

4

You might want to consider the message you'll send to these clients.....

If you're willing to "stab your employer in the back" by trying to steal their clients, clients might consider that quite telling. They may feel that you'd be willing to also "stab them in the back" if the opportunity presented itself. How you treat others (including past employers) is very indicative of how you'll treat me.

Even if there is nothing legal preventing you from doing this, the gain is short lived. So you end up burning many bridges for the hopes of immediate, but not lasting, clients, if any. If your former employer feels your split from the company was amicable, they'll be in a better mindset to pass along contact information for you if asked. If the former employer is unhappy with you, they'll do everything in their power to discourage anyone from contacting you. One bad "word or mouth" spreads like wildfire.

Take the high ground and find new clients, if you offered something unique your employer's clients liked about their relationship with your employer, they'll seek you out. You don't need to go looking for them. The reality is, if you're venturing out freelancing full time, you probably shouldn't need those clients to start out. Sure, they may be nice to have,but if it's imperative you gain them, you might not be in a great position to start freelancing full time.

Today I work with several clients that were connected to my last employer (more than 10+ years ago). They found me. I never went looking for them.

  • I was going to write the same exact thing. When I resigned my web designer/developer job in the late 90's I just informed the employer's clients that shortly I would not be anymore available and they would have to talk to someone else. In a period of a few months many of these employer's clients found me by my new website and we kept a long good work relationship, still now (at the time I even refused some of them because I already knew they were problematic). – Mario Mar 31 '17 at 15:12

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