Red Bull's lawyers have headed to court in the UK, in a case involving Dan Fallows, with court documents from the hearing seen by RacingNews365.com.
The former Chief Aerodynamicist of Red Bull was announced in June 2021 as Aston Martin's new Technical Director for 2022, but Red Bull indicated that they would not be letting him depart without serving an enforced period of notice.
Fallows received an offer from Aston Martin for 2022 and accepted it, with an indicated desired start date of 1 January. However, according to Red Bull, his contract states that he has to serve a six-month notice period which can only be triggered on 31 December 2022 at the earliest.
This would mean Fallows wouldn't be able to join another team until 1 July 2023.
As a result, Fallows' announcement as Aston Martin Technical Director would appear to be a breach of his contract and, as work on the 2022 car had already begun, Red Bull are eager to keep the information he's gleaned working with Adrian Newey's technical departments from escaping to Aston Martin.
Redeployment at Red Bull
The court documents indicate that Fallows was taken off the F1-related side of the Red Bull company and set to work on the development of a Red Bull road car within the Advanced Technologies arm of the business.
Citing constructive dismissal, Fallows handed in his notice two months later seeking an immediate end to his employment at Red Bull. The court documents say that Fallows felt his notice period was unenforceable as it is 'in restraint of trade'.
Despite Fallows giving examples of other ex-Red Bull employees who departed without serving their full notice period, Red Bull refused his resignation by drawing distinctions between their positions and his, triggering the court hearing on 17 December 2021.
Initial ruling in favour of Red Bull
A ruling will be made at the end of January but, after the first hearing in December, Red Bull appears to be in a good position.
Fallows' lawyers sought email communications from Team Principal Christian Horner be seen to evaluate the circumstances of departure for the employees Fallows gave as examples, but the judge rejected this and ruled that every employee will have different circumstances.
The court action is set to continue from 25 to 28 January, although the initial ruling from the judge is that Fallow's application has been rejected.
Incidentally, it is not the first time that Fallows has caused a legal tussle between teams. In 2014, he wanted to switch from Red Bull to McLaren. He signed a new contract with McLaren, but then Red Bull offered him a new and better contract. The teams reached an undisclosed settlement over the dispute.
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