What Happens if an Employee is in Breach of Confidentiality?
In a recent case, an employee was given a custodial sentence for breaching a confidentiality clause. The case is rather extreme but is a warning for others about misusing their employer's confidential information - and not obeying court orders.
In OCS Group UK -v- Dadi, an employee forwarded confidential work information from his work email account to his personal email account. The employer went to court and obtained an injunction against Mr Dadi to stop further disclosures.
The wording of the injunction specifically prohibited Mr Dadi from disclosing the employer's confidential information. It also ordered Mr Dadi to provide information about what he had disclosed, to preserve his emails and not to tell anyone about the proceedings. He did not: in fact, he deleted around 8000 emails and also gave a 'tip-off' to others about the injunction. He later admitted being in breach of the injunction not least by destroying important evidence.
Contempt of Court
The court took a dim view of Mr Dadi's actions and penalised his failure to comply by imprisoning him for contempt of court. The sentence was the minimum term in the circumstances – but one that was designed to show the court's disapproval of Mr Dadi's conduct and to warn others of the need to comply with the terms of an injunction.
Tips - What this Means in Practice
- injunctions are onerous orders and not to be ignored; and
- confidentiality clauses are an important element of employment contracts. They protect an employers' business and interests. Check that your contracts with your employees contain an appropriate and enforceable confidentiality clause.
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