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Confidential Information - Not For Everyone

As any company grows more successful it becomes more vulnerable to the activities of rogue employees or directors.  Nobody can legislate for employees either having their heads turned, or looking for the extra buck. Customer lists, tender submissions, price lists and contact details are all examples of information that is confidential and that, in the wrong hands, can be very damaging to companies. Often directors and employees either through ignorance, or spite, seek to take confidential information and use it for personal gain, for example, by setting up new companies in competition or by going direct to competitors and seeking to join them.

It is often mistakenly thought that you must have a long and comprehensive employment contract restricting employees from acting in this way before the court will afford you protection. That is not the case.   

The law provides protection for companies who potentially suffer at the hands of employees or trusted individuals who seek to use such information for their own advantage. This can be by either creating a fiduciary duty and/or a duty of confidence and fidelity which if breached, can be protected by an immediate injunction from the court or one that takes no longer than four or five days to obtain.   Such an action can be started without there being any expressed provision in the contract of employment and/or there being a contract at all.

If it can be shown that it was either obvious, or should have been obvious, that the information in question was confidential in nature, the court will protect you from the use of that information.  It is possible in these circumstances to obtain a court order not only requiring the immediate return of the information (whatever the medium) but also a requirement that they send details of how the information was used and any person it was published to.

Readers should not under estimate the willingness of the court to intervene in these circumstances.

If you are in any doubt with regard to your rights in such matters please contact myself, Mark Jones.

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