Disappointed applicant accused of blackmail

Posted: 29th July 2014

RCJ

A restaurateur who was bitterly disappointed not to be offered a job by a leading IT company has ended up being hit with a High Court injunction after he got hold of confidential information and was accused of blackmail.

The man, whose restaurant was frequented by the company’s employees, claimed that his job application was refused due to discrimination. However, the company argued that he had persistently 'bothered' its staff in his hunt for work despite not having the necessary skills, knowledge or experience.

The company’s lawyers argued that the man had somehow managed to get hold of commercially sensitive information and had 'engaged in blackmail'. He vehemently denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he had done nothing sinister. He argued that he owed the company no duty of confidentiality and needed documents that had come into his possession in order to pursue a discrimination claim.

In issuing an interim injunction against the man – requiring him to hand over the documents and not to disclose their contents to third parties – the Court emphasised that it was not deciding the rights and wrongs of the dispute. However, it was at least arguable that the man had attempted to blackmail the company and the latter was justifiably concerned that its confidential information might make its way into the hands of competitors or headhunters.