Employment Law Update: Confidential Information
In the recent case of Brandeaux (Advisers) UK Limited v. Chadwick (2011) IRLR 224, a senior employee who was in dispute with her employer started emailing to her private email address a huge volume of material of a confidential nature, some of it highly confidential. She continued to do so for a period of months, although she did nothing with the material other than copying it to her solicitor.
When she was put on gardening leave, her work email account was examined and the transfer of material discovered, resulting in her dismissal for gross misconduct. A question for the High Court was whether she should be ordered to deliver up the confidential material sent to her private email address. The High Court ruled that she should, because she had breached her contract. The judge said it was doubtful that the possibility of litigation with an employer could ever justify an employee transferring or copying specific confidential documents for his/her own retention which might be relevant to such a dispute. In the event of a dispute arising, it would be appropriate to rely on the process of disclosure in the course of litigation.
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