Agreements in restraints of trade are generally void unless they comply with the procedures of § 542.335, Florida Statutes. The statute requires that any agreement restraining trade, such as a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, be supported by a “legitimate business interest.” An agreement restraining trade can only be enforced to the extent that the agreement protects this legitimate business interest. It is therefore critical that litigants be familiar with what qualifies as a “legitimate business interest.” The Florida Supreme Court has established that referral sources can qualify as something that can be a protectible legitimate business interest. Peter Mavrick is a Miami non-compete attorney and business litigation attorney who has extensive experience with non-compete litigation.
Florida’s non-compete laws are very pro-employer in comparison to most of the United States. Norman D. Bishara, Fifty Ways to Leave Your Employer: Relative Enforcement of Covenants Not to Compete, Trends, and Implications for Employee Mobility Policy, 13 U. Pa. J. Bus. L.751 (Spring 2011). Nevertheless, Florida courts will not enforce a non-compete agreement unless it strictly complies with the requirements of Florida statutes.
Under Florida law, generally, “[e]very contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce in this state is unlawful.” Fla. Stat. § 542.18. The exception is found in the express statutory authority found in § 542.335, Florida Statutes. In pertinent part, § 542.335, Florida Statutes provides: