Companies cannot avoid a council’s injunction simply by moving out of its area, the High Court has ruled.
In a case brought by Oldham MBC against a telesales company, Mr Justice Phillips said the council could obtain an injunction even though the company had moved to Manchester.
Oldham sought to restrain the company WMSL from “continuing to use certain misleading advertising in selling to other traders”, according to court documents.
The court judgement said the firm’s services included offering to “enhance” customers’ profiles online by improving their prominence in Google searches.
It noted WMSL and its director Danny Kay did not dispute that the firm had been acting in breach of the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.
The firm’s defence was that Oldham was not an “appropriate authority” to seek an injunction because “about a year before these proceedings commenced, WMSL had moved its place of business from Oldham to Manchester”, the judgment said.
But the judge ruled: “Given the timing of WMSL’s relocation (shortly after the search warrant was executed at its Oldham premises), the short distance the business moved and Mr Kay’s continued connections with the Oldham area, the council was entitled to perceive a real risk that WMSL would return to its Oldham area in the foreseeable future.”
Oldham was also entitled to assume that businesses in the town could be among those called from WMSL’s Manchester office, the judge ruled.
Mr Justice Philips said: “In my judgment, a local authority can properly take into account broader considerations of how to promote or protect the interests of its inhabitants, not limited to situations where unlawful activity is continuing or contemplated within its area.”