Breach of contract employee lands up in jail

2017-07-16 Jennifer Renney-Butland posted:

It is not often that a breach of confidentiality clauses in a contract of employment results in a jail sentence for an employee but that is precisely what happened in this month’s case of OCS v Dadi.

The High Court had granted an interim injunction to the employer prohibiting the employee from disclosing confidential information belonging to his employer, and requiring him to provide information about what disclosures he had previously made of that confidential information. The employee was also ordered to preserve hard copy and electronic documents until the next court hearing date, and not to disclose to anyone other than his legal advisors the existence of the order and the possibility of proceedings being commenced.

However, within 48 hours of being served with the order, the employee had committed four breaches, including telephoning his boss and telling him about the order, deleting emails from his phone and 8,000 emails from his web-based email account, and informing members of his family and friends of the order.

The company applied to commit the employee to prison for contempt of court. The employee admitted the breaches but claimed that he had made an error of judgment and that he had simply panicked and had not read the court order carefully. The High Court was not impressed and imposed a sentence of 6 weeks’ imprisonment being the minimum term, to mark the court’s strong disapproval of the employee’s conduct and to act as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to flout the court’s orders in that way

So, whoever thinks that contractual restrictions are unenforceable is clearly wrong, and a breach can end up not only with a fine or compensation payment but also a minimum 6 weeks’ prison sentence!

If you are looking to protect yourself or your business with regard to confidential information and contractual restrictions, get in touch with us for specialist employment advice on where you stand. Do not hesitate to contact us at 01225 632240 or email info@renneyandco.com.

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