I owned a dance studio back in 2007, was going through a divorce at the same time. I wanted to take some time away from my business to clear my head. So I had someone take over the remainder of my lease where I held my business. I signed a non-compete agreement I wouldn't come back until my original lease was up. Supposedly I still have a year left. I want to reopen a dance studio under a new name and everything but I'm being threated if I do so. I have been away from three years and over 2 hrs away. How can I get out of it so I can open the business?
A non-competition agreement must generally meet certain conditions in order to be valid. Among such conditions are that the restrictions contained in the agreement must be reasonable in terms of the duration and the geographical area involved. For example, if your agreement provided that for 10 years you could not operate a dance studio anywhere in the United States, that would be patently unreasonable, in my view, in terms of both duration and area.
Your inquiry does not indicate the specific terms of the agreement you signed, but you would do well to have an attorney review that agreement.
You say that the agreement you signed stated that you would not "come back" until the expiration of the lease. When you say "come back," I do not know whether you are referring to the particular site at which your dance studio operated or whether you are talking about, say, opening a new business within a stated distance from the location of the original business.
You also say that "supposedly" a year remains on the term of your lease and, thus, on the duration of the non-competition agreement. You should, certainly, determine exactly when the lease expires and the attorney you consult will focus on the precise language of the agreement.
I would imagine that a business like a dance studio will usually attract customers who are local to the area in which the dance studio is located, such that opening up another such business 20 or 30 minutes away may not pose a threat to the assignee of the lease.
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