Cutting the Gordian Knot - Restrictive Covenants in Employment Contracts

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Cutting the Gordian Knot - Restrictive Covenants in Employment Contracts

Divya Kumat, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Company Secretary, Datamatics Global Services Limited, India

In India, in order to protect trade secrets, confidential information and human resources, it is common for companies and organizations to include ’restrictive covenants’ in employment contracts. As a general counsel, I always kept a keen eye on these restrictive covenants, their applicability and how it impacts the employer-employee relationship in various geographies specially in India, the United Kingdom and the United States. While on one hand, it is wise to say that any such restraint on the freedom of an individual is against public policy and constitutional rights, on the other hand it is equally unreasonable for employers to suffer the misuse of these liberties by the employees. The departing employees often take the help of advance technology tools, delete the vital information from the machines after copying them and then blatantly misuse the copied information which may be in the form of trade secrets, list of customers, pricing and similar such information. These ex-employees then approach the same customer, give them much discounted price and thus play an important role in taking away the customers of the former employer. They also persuade directly or indirectly, other team members to join the competitor company.

Divya brings with her over 23 years of rich and diverse experience, having held prominent legal and secretarial positions in leading corporations. Since last 14 years with Datamatics, Divya leads all legal, secretarial, IPR, and contract management of more than 40 group companies in India and overseas and is a key player in all in-organic initiatives of the Datamatics group, such as joint venture collaborations, mergers, acquisitions, and amalgamations globally. She is credited with formulating and enforcing several legally binding policies and frameworks including the Contract Management policy, Insider Trading policy, Whistle Blower policy, and Investor Grievance policy, Prevention of Sexual Harassment policy to name a few. Her efforts to secure various copyrights, trademarks, and service mark registrations globally have served to improve the company’s IPR wealth. She has addressed various forums in India and overseas as a guest speaker or key note speaker on topics like Contract Management, Role of General Counsel, Companies Act, POSH and other relevant topics. She was listed as top 100 General Counsels of India in 2017 by Legal500 and was also featured as India’s Finest In-House Counsels in the 2017 Edition of ’Trailblazers” published by the Ministry of Law & Justice and the Department of Commerce, Government of India in collaboration with In house Counsel Worldwide and the Asia Pacific Corporate Counsel Alliance. Recently, she was also featured in ’Diversity & the Bar” in Summer 2018 edition, a reputed US publication of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) for her views about gender relations and changing workplace environment. She has been a proud recipient of several notable awards and global recognitions viz. Leading Woman Company Secretary 2011; Leading Woman Owned Innovative Project Award 2013; Best Use of Technology & Innovation in Legal 2013; General Counsel of the Year 2014 (Female); Best IT Legal Business Leader 2017 - India by AI 2017 [UK] and Star Echelon – In-house Category during The Leadership Summit & Excellence Awards, 2017. Within Datamatics, She has been awarded with ’Leadership in Business Excellence, 2018”; ’Excellence in Execution 2016”; ’Leadership in Business Excellence, 2014”; ’Outstanding Achievement Award 2014”; ’Leadership in Business Excellence, 2012”; ’Leadership in Execution, 2012”; ’Leadership in Execution, 2009”; ’Leadership in Execution, 2008”; ’Quality Award, 2008”; and ’Excellence Award 2005” for her performance in various organic and in-organic matters of Datamatics Group companies. Prior to joining Datamatics, she was the Legal Head at Computer Sciences Corporation (India), a US MNC in India. Divya holds a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce (Honors) and Law (LLB). As a Gold Medalist in LLM, her final thesis presentation was on the subject of International Arbitration. She is a fellow member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (FCS) and a merit holder in ICSA, London. She has recently completed 6 months certified course on Corporate Governance, launched by IICA and MCA.

Datamatics is a technology company that builds intelligent solutions enabling data-driven businesses to digitally transform themselves through Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Mobility and Advanced Analytics. The company has a comprehensive suite of innovative solutions through which it caters to over 450 customers across the globe, which includes Fortune 500 companies. Headquartered in Mumbai, the company has a strong presence across the Americas, Australia, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Over the years, Datamatics has been recognized by various national and international forums as well as by the CIO community.

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