THE legal stoush between Seven Media Group and Ten Network over Ten's poaching of former Seven ad sales executive James Warburton is reaching its climax in the Supreme Court of NSW today.
Seven's legal team of Johnson Winter & Slattery and Baker & McKenzie contend that Warburton needs to give a minimum three month notice after his contract express on 13 July and then serve out a 12 month non-compete period.
The case could test the ability of restraining clauses in employment contracts that seek to prevent executives jumping to other companies.
In an explosive statement of claim lodged with the Court, Seven claimed it had offered Warburton the job as chief executive of Seven Media, only to have him jump ship to take up the top post at Ten.
The parties appear in Court today to start what looms as a pitched battle between Kerry Stokes' Seven and Ten, which is currently being run by Lachlan Murdoch.
Employment lawyers will now be looking at how the Court views the restraints Seven has sought to place on Warburton's start date.
Courts typically take a dim view of lengthy restraints of defecting employees, with restraints of longer than 12 years becoming less common.
The free-to-air networks typically take a robust legal approach to defections. David Leckie, Seven's chief executive, told The Australian: "Seven Media Group wishes James Warburton well in his new role at Ten … subject to his contractual commitments."