My wife works at a veterinary clinic (clinic A), recently they hired a new doctor who had a non compete clause in her previous contract (clinic B). A client came in who moved and was closer to clinic A, and after contacting her old vet, at clinic B, was told she could could not be a client at clinic A.

My (admittedly limited) understanding of contract law leads me to believe that the new doctor would not be able to see, or profit, from the patient, but that clinic A doesn't have any legal ground to prevent another doctor at clinic B from seeing a patient.

Is this just bluster, or does clinic A actually have to turn down any of clinic B's clients?

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    What does the non-compete actually say, and where is all of this taking place? Many non-competes are unenforceable. Also: do not take legal advice from your opponent. Just because the other clinic says something does not mean it is true. – amon Jul 11 '19 at 7:16

It might be, depending on the wording of the non-compete agreement between new doctor D could not provide services to client C (who had moved). Such a provision might or might not be enforceable, depending on its wording, and the law in the jurisdiction. It is very common for employers to draft and get employees to sign non-compete agreements that are broader than local law will enforce.

If the agreement is valid and enforceable, that does not bind clinic A. However, if at times doctor D will be the only vet on duty at clinic A, accepting C as a client of A might craete a situation where C has an obligation to treat C's pet as an employee of A, but has an obligation not to treat under the non-compete. B might be able to get a court order against A accepting C to prevent such a dilemma. But that will very much depend on the precise facts and the local law. If clinic A can assure that a vet other than D will be available to treat C's pet, there should be no obstacle to A accepting C as a client. In any case, B cannot control who A accepts except via a court order, since there is no direct contract between them.

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From the information given, Clinic A has not entered into any contract with Clinic B. Hence, Clinic B may have acted in bad faith when they told the client to shun A. This may be grounds for damages.

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