Michael Jackson Impersonator's Move Sparks Employment Dispute

In an unusual case, which shows how important it is to act quickly if an employee breaches his or her contract of employment, a Blackpool stage company paid a heavy price for its delay in taking legal action against a Michael Jackson impersonator who left to work for a rival show on the pier (Legends Live Limited v Harrison).

Mr Harrison left Legends Live Limited's employ and moved to another show after a season in which he had impressed audiences and won standing ovations. In seeking an injunction against him, the company pointed to a restrictive covenant in his contract which forbade him from taking part in any rival look-alike or sound-alike shows in Blackpool for 12 months up to October 2016. The company argued that it had put a great deal of time and money into mentoring him and honing his act and complained that he had moved after just one season.

Observing that the case revealed an ongoing dispute between rival venues on the pier, the High Court ruled that the covenant did not impose unreasonable restrictions on the performer's freedom to make a living. However, in refusing to grant the order sought, it found that the company had left it too late to launch proceedings. He was now well established in his new job and requiring him to stand aside at the height of the season would have a grave impact on all those involved in the show.