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Employment Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Breach of Confidentiality

Your employees have a lot of sensitive information about your business, such as client details and financial data. Our solicitors can advise you what information to protect and how you can legally restrict your employees from using your confidential information.

You can help prevent confidentiality breaches by including confidentiality clauses and restrictive covenants in your employment contracts. These should make it clear to your staff what information they must keep confidential.

Confidentiality clauses also help explain what your expectations are and the consequences of staff misusing your data. Having these boundaries can help create trust and a better working relationship, as well as protecting your business.

By working together, we’ll get to know your business so we can advise on a plan that’s tailored to your needs and protects your business from immediate and future confidentiality issues. Contact our team online or call 0808 271 2602 to discuss how we could help you.

What Constitutes A Breach Of Confidentiality?

A breach of confidentiality happens when an employee, worker or contractor shares or uses certain types of information that could damage your business, its clients, or its employees.

By law business information is classified into four types which include:

  • Trade secrets – information that’s protected during and after employment even if you don’t have a confidentiality clause in your contract
  • Confidential information – information that’s protected because you’ve told your employees it’s confidential or it’s obvious that it shouldn’t be used
  • Employee’s skill or knowledge – information belonging to the employee that allows them to do their job
  • Public information – information that can’t be protected.

Different types of information can be protected in different ways. Trade secrets, for instance are always protected regardless of whether or not they are mentioned in your employment contracts.

Our solicitors can help you identify ways to protect different types of sensitive data and limit disruption for your business in the case of a breach of confidentiality.

How Can I Protect My Business?

You can protect your business against confidentiality breaches by including in your contracts:

  • An express duty of confidentiality – when you set out in your contracts what information is confidential, what your employee’s obligations are, and what happens if they share this information
  • Restrictive covenants – preventing an ex-employee from competing with your business for a period of time after they’ve left you.

Employment contracts do have an implied duty of good faith. This can give some protection against staff sharing confidential information while they’re employed by you (but not once they’ve left). Relying on implied duty is very risky.

Our solicitors can help you include clauses in your contracts to clearly set out what information your employees can and cannot share. This will avoid confusion from your staff around what’s expected from them. You can also use your contracts as evidence if you face a court hearing.

What Should I Do If I Face A Breach Of Confidentiality?

The most common way to deal with a breach of confidentiality is to tell your employee that you know they’ve breached confidentiality. You’ll need to warn them of the consequences and ask them for an undertaking to stop misusing your confidential business information.

You can make a legal claim against your employee if they refuse to agree to an undertaking or the breach has caused significant harm to your business. A legal claim may lead to an injunction (a court order that prevents someone from using your confidential information) or damages that the employee must pay you.

The court will decide if an injunction or damages is more suitable depending on the how serious the breach is. We’ll help you gather the evidence you need to support your claim.

How Can Irwin Mitchell Help?

We can help with:

  • Drafting confidentiality clauses for your employment contracts
  • Editing existing clauses to make sure they are legally compliant
  • Preparing restrictive covenants for staff who have access to sensitive information
  • Advising on what to do if an employee misuses information
  • Advising on dismissals or resignations of employees
  • Supporting you through a legal claim.

Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?

Our employment law team is recommended as leaders in their field and is highly ranked in independent legal directories such as Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. Whether you need help with an immediate issue or are looking to avoid future problems, our team will work with you and advise on any concerns you have.

Of course budget is always a concern for any business so we offer flexible payment options to suit your needs like fixed fees, retainer arrangements or a bank of hours purchased upfront.

We’re part of one of the UK’s top national law firms with offices in 14 major locations nationwide. So wherever you’re based, our employment solicitors can help. Call us on 0808 271 2602 or contact us online to discuss how we can help you protect your business interests.

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