Industrial espionage claim succeeds

Posted: 7th January 2016

SecretsEmployees sadly cannot always be trusted and industrial espionage is a threat which cannot be ignored. In one case, a company received £275,000 in damages and legal costs after a disloyal worker abused her position to disperse confidential and commercially sensitive information to others.

The company for which the woman worked (company A) became suspicious after she resigned at a time which appeared to be designed to cause maximum disruption. It employed specialists in computer forensics to interrogate her laptop and mobile phone and they were alleged to have uncovered extensive evidence of unlawful conduct.

Company A launched proceedings against the woman and company B, which was said to have encouraged the leaks and conspired with her in an attempt to divert away her employer’s business. After an injunction was obtained against them and a speedy trial ordered, the woman and company B consented to a settlement of the case.

Company B agreed to pay £176,000 in damages and £99,000 in legal costs. The former employee made full admissions that she had breached her duties of good faith and fidelity and submitted to judgment. The damages payable by her have yet to be assessed. Proceedings against another company were blocked by the High Court on the basis that company A’s claim had been satisfied by the settlement.