Legal Question in Business Law in Mississippi

Noncompete agreement

My wife and I sold a retail hardware business that we had owned for about 14 years. When our lawyer wrote the sales agreement, he put in a 5 year noncompete ageement. We asked the lawyer about the 5 years, he said it was ''pretty much standard.'' Orginally I wanted a 1 year agreement because the buyer had not stated any particular amout of time for the noncompete agreement. Because our lawyer said it was a standard thing, we agreed to it. My wife had worked in the store for 14 years and I had worked in it for about 33 years. Last week we contacted the man that purchased our business about allowing us to opening a small store about 20 miles from his store but he said no. All we wanted to do was to work a few more years untill my wife and I are 65 years old. We are not any kind of threat to him. My wife and I have been told by another lawyer that the 5 years is unreasonable. I have read that in many states that a noncompete agreement will not standup in court. It now seems that we had bad advice from our lawyer & are in the predicament because of him. The man that bought our store is very wealthy with a team of lawyers at his disposal.

It seems to me, that he should have to prove our sales would hurt him.

Asked on 2/27/07, 6:03 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

James R. Becker, Jr. Becker Law Firm

Re: Noncompete agreement

If this is an area where you are uncomfortable, you should sit down with a lawyer who handles noncompete cases and spend sometime discussing how to resolve this situation. As a general rule of thumb, noncompetes that are in conjunction with the sale of a business are upheld much more frequently than noncompete agreements which arise out of an employment relationship. The concept being that you have sold the goodwill of your business and you should not be able to come back in and take what you sold.

Noncompete agreements are determined by state law. This means that most likely, you would need to discuss your situation in detail with a Mississippi attorney.

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Answered on 2/27/07, 8:40 pm

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