An executive has been found in breach of his contract of employment with his former employer after he leaked a confidential report during a luncheon appointment with a business contact.
Shortly after leaving his senior position to take up a new post with a rival company, he disclosed the confidential document to a business contact who was connected with his new employer.
When the leak was discovered by his former employer, it commenced court proceedings against him.
In the High Court, Judge Reid ruled that the disclosure of the document amounted to a breach of both the defendant’s contract of service and the duty of confidence he owed to his former employer.
The executive had denied having a copy of the document, which contained sensitive pricing and strategy information, or disclosing it to his business contact. However, the judge said that parts of his evidence were ‘singularly unconvincing’ and ‘did not ring true’. He instead preferred the evidence of the business contact, who had supported the former employer’s case in court.
The judge found that the business contact must have seen the document before publishing an online article, which referred to its contents, soon after his luncheon meeting with the defendant. Consequently, the balance of probability lay very firmly in favour of the business contact’s assertion that the source of the information revealed in the article was the document which had been disclosed to him.
The executive was ruled to be in breach of his employment contract and the terms of the compromise agreement he had reached with his former employer when he left the company.
The Court issued an injunction against the executive, which will be the subject of further argument, as will the level of damages to be paid.