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Old 16.12.2019, 18:13
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Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

Hey there,

I am signing up for a martial arts class, and in the contract (in English), there's a section which specifies that if I instruct others (members or non-members), there will be a CHF 30.000 (thirty thousand Swiss francs) fine for each infringement, up to a maximum of CHF 250.000 (two hundred fifty thousand Swiss francs).

It also specifies that this clause is breached even if you teach somebody "temporarily" - what that means, I don't know.

I wasn't planning on instructing anybody, but this sounds like a hefty fine for teaching a friend a move or two you learnt in class.

Is there reason to be concerned?
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Old 16.12.2019, 20:17
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

I would not sign this.
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Old 16.12.2019, 20:19
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

Find another Dojo.
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Old 16.12.2019, 22:09
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

OMG there are big reasons to be concerned, do not sign this.
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Old 16.12.2019, 23:44
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

Yep. Give them the chop...
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Old 17.12.2019, 05:26
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

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Hey there,

I am signing up for a martial arts class, and in the contract (in English), there's a section which specifies that if I instruct others (members or non-members), there will be a CHF 30.000 (thirty thousand Swiss francs) fine for each infringement, up to a maximum of CHF 250.000 (two hundred fifty thousand Swiss francs).

It also specifies that this clause is breached even if you teach somebody "temporarily" - what that means, I don't know.

I wasn't planning on instructing anybody, but this sounds like a hefty fine for teaching a friend a move or two you learnt in class.

Is there reason to be concerned?

Sounds like they're afraid of a little healthy competition.

You should instruct them to remove the non-compete claus because at those rates they are encouraging someone to open a dojo in the neighborhood.
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Old 17.12.2019, 07:09
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

Maybe they’ve given you an instructor’s contract by mistake? Even so, the fines are ridiculous.
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Old 17.12.2019, 10:31
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

I've only heard about non-competition clause in employment contracts, not school contracts. I really doubt learning martial arts qualify as employer-employee relationship. Also, it does not looks like a typical non-competition clause that specifies clearly a limit on time (tomorrow or on 3 years?), location (ZH, TI or Japan?), or scope (are ab crunches martial arts or not?).

On a second thought, it's ridiculous. Can you think about an university that requires you to sign a contract clause that states that you cannot generate income teaching to others the knowledge you acquired?

Finally, the gambler in my head says that martial arts teachers are not the kind of guys who pay a lawyer to dutifully review their contracts, thus I bet this "clause" is worthless.
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Old 17.12.2019, 11:37
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

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I've only heard about non-competition clause in employment contracts, not school contracts. I really doubt learning martial arts qualify as employer-employee relationship.
It's not am employment contract. More a form of NDA and I would argue that might be even legal as its spelled out clearly and is a private contract which has a lot less limitations and rules than employment law. Your employer can pressure you to sign something... a gym far less so.

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Also, it does not looks like a typical non-competition clause that specifies clearly a limit on time (tomorrow or on 3 years?), location (ZH, TI or Japan?), or scope (are ab crunches martial arts or not?).
You are right when it comes to employment law. I dont think this applies here.

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On a second thought, it's ridiculous. Can you think about an university that requires you to sign a contract clause that states that you cannot generate income teaching to others the knowledge you acquired?
I would raise you Bikram yoga - the guy managed to get a copyright on yoga movements that have been used throughout India for millenia. But of course is his exact choreography the secret sauce to happiness ;-) So I am sure you could argue the same about some ancient martial arts movements...




To me it looks more like a case where a student probably once opened his own gym down the road and the owners said "lets make sure that wont happen again"... its a rather stupid attitude to do this through a contract instead of simply trying to be the better gym. So I would train elsewhere.
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Old 17.12.2019, 11:55
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

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I would raise you Bikram yoga - the guy managed to get a copyright on yoga movements that have been used throughout India for millenia. But of course is his exact choreography the secret sauce to happiness ;-) So I am sure you could argue the same about some ancient martial arts movements...

In this case, the NDA is requested by the franchise owner.....it's time to ask the OP if we're talking about a neighborhood school or a global franchise. If it's a franchise, that clause it's only to motivate people to register and pay regular fees to the intellectual property owner
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Old 17.12.2019, 12:06
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

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Hey there,

I am signing up for a martial arts class, and in the contract (in English), there's a section which specifies that if I instruct others (members or non-members), there will be a CHF 30.000 (thirty thousand Swiss francs) fine for each infringement, up to a maximum of CHF 250.000 (two hundred fifty thousand Swiss francs).

It also specifies that this clause is breached even if you teach somebody "temporarily" - what that means, I don't know.

I wasn't planning on instructing anybody, but this sounds like a hefty fine for teaching a friend a move or two you learnt in class.

Is there reason to be concerned?
Which place is this? Would be good to know the name.
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Old 17.12.2019, 13:00
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

When I signed for a Thai Box training I also had a statement in the contract that I'm not allowed to teach anyone or to give lessons for any reasons to a member or not member of the club

I don't remember what was a fine linked with it but when I asked the main trainer why this statement is in the contract he replied that he had already cases where his students got proper coupe years training and then they went to open their own fighting classes and he was loosing money because of that.
So he put this statement in the contract to protect his own business.

True or not I'm still going to his classes and have no problems training as well as receive or give small advises during the classes.

I do not think this is to pull money out of you - it is simply to protect the business.
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Old 17.12.2019, 13:16
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

Is your name mr miyagi ?
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Old 17.12.2019, 13:34
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

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he had already cases where his students got proper coupe years training and then they went to open their own fighting classes and he was loosing money because of that.
I understand the logic, but what he was trying to do is to enforce a monopoly - 'this is my block and I want no competition'.
I don't think it's legal, even if properly written in a contract.

Actually, this behavior could even be a crime depending on the circumstances...
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Old 18.12.2019, 11:37
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

well, in my case I'm training there already 5 years and no issues...

I did even show some moves to my daughter without consequences
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Old 19.12.2019, 16:19
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Re: Martial arts competition clause - insane fines?

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You are right when it comes to employment law. I dont think this applies here.
It probably does. While §163 of the Code of Obligations says in its first part that a "Konventionalstrafe" can be of any amount, the 3rd part says that a judge can amend excessive fines. You can find many federal court rulings where this actually happened, including this one which explicitly mentions that a reduction of the penalty is appropriate where the penalty's amount is excessive.

"1 The parties are free to determine the amount of the contractual penalty."
[..]
"3 At its discretion, the court may reduce penalties that it considers excessive."

And there is of course §2.2 of the Civil Code with its "The manifest abuse of a right is not protected by law."
With such a ridiculous amount this may apply and void the clause altogether.

However all that would require a judicial verdict. So yes, OP, don't sign (without removing that clause).
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