17 December 2018

Misuse of confidential information & LinkedIn

If former employees who have moved to a competitor steal your confidential data and begin soliciting your clients, we can help to protect your business and take action to stop them, as well as seeking redress.

In a recent case, we acted for a national recruitment business whose ex-employee was misusing its confidential information (having emailed it from his work email address to his personal email address) and breaching the terms of the restrictive covenants contained in his employment contract. To prevent him from taking these steps and to avoid the company losing clients and customers, we obtained an interim injunction from the High Court.

The judge ordered that the ex-employee must:

• deliver up all confidential information that he held
• provide access to a computer expert to search his email accounts, mobile phone and LinkedIn account
• delete any offending information identified by the computer expert
• provide an affidavit describing the confidential data he took and the steps he had taken with that data.

The order also required that he must not disclose any of our client’s confidential information or breach the restrictive covenants contained in his employment contract.

In light of the contractual framework, the judge agreed that the LinkedIn connections that the ex-employee generated during the period of his employment belonged to our client and were to be deleted.

The judge’s order contained a penal notice, so that if the ex-employee failed to comply with the terms of the order, he could face imprisonment.

When the computer expert carried out his searches, he uncovered evidence indicating that a competitor of our client (who had employed the ex-employee) had encouraged and facilitated the ex-employee’s theft of data and solicitation of clients and candidates.

We applied to have the new employer added as a defendant to the proceedings, subsequently settling with them for a six-figure sum.

If you are concerned that an ex-employee has stolen your confidential information or is contacting your customers, clients or suppliers, we can advise you how to protect your business. This may include, where appropriate, applying for an injunction against your ex-employee.

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About the Author
Jenny Raymond, Partner
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