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tdlawyer
tdlawyer, Laywer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  Lawyer with 9 years experience in employment related issues.
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An ex employee used company computer data he kept, to contact

Resolved Question:

An ex employee used company computer data he kept, to contact company customers and suppliers , to offer his services / availability.
Is this theft ?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 2 years ago.

tdlawyer :

Hello, welcome to the website. My name is ***** ***** I should be able to assist you with this.

tdlawyer :

This is unlikely to be theft, under the theft act 1968. Put simply, confidential information is not "property" which is capable of being stolen.

tdlawyer :

However, you may have rights in the civil law to prevent the confidential information from being taken and wrongfully exploited.

tdlawyer :

Did you have a contract of employment with the ex-employee, and if so, did it define what confidential information was?

Customer:

No contract of employment, as such, and no defenition of what was confidential information.

tdlawyer :

And was this information kept in a list or a secure database or something like that?

Customer:

Having said that, one assumes that it is generally accepted that a customer list and supplier list obtained by consequence of ones employment in a company, is generally not for the comsumption of an employee right after his left the employer.

tdlawyer :

Yes, that statement is a very fair and accurate one.

Customer:

The data was available only to this employee and the Director

tdlawyer :

If a list of customer contact details was taken by the employee, and he knew or ought to have known that that was likely to be confidential information, the a court is likely to restrain him by way of injunction from using that information.

tdlawyer :

Unfortunately, this means that you would have to take positive action, by issuing court proceedings.

Customer:

The ex employee, took the liberty of telling the customers and the suppliers of his availability, by way of letting them know that he was no longer in our employment, before this was discussed with the company, as at that time we were telling only to the few (1 or 2 ) customers that asked, that the employee was in a ''paterneaty leave '' as he was than the father of the 2nd. child.

tdlawyer :

Do you have restrictive covenants in the contract as well? That might prevent him from competing with you?

Customer:

No, this was supposed to be a friend, and he worked almost impecably for us for over 6 years .

tdlawyer :

Okay. Then you might be able to stop him using the confidential information, as a means of identifying customers and being able to contact them, but you are likely to prevent him from competing with you.

tdlawyer :

Obviously, he would need to be able to contact the customers for information publicly available, or otherwise available than through your confidential information. If he can do that, their reality, he is likely to be able to contact them and compete without doing anything wrong. At least legally!

tdlawyer :

If you wanted to stop him using the confidential information, you would need to apply to the court for an interim injunction. This can be done using form N244. However, I would strongly encourage you to seek professional assistance before engaging with such an application. They are not easy, and not straightforward.

tdlawyer :

Is there anything more you would like me to discuss with you about this?

Customer:

Ok, he can obtain the data / details of these ( our ) customers by other means and surely trade with them legally. But, changing the course of our conversation, if he was the '' IT expert '' at the time ( 6 years back ) and decided without our knowledge to set up all our web sites with a provider where his own e-mail would be the ultimate administrator for those sites, and now, forward 6 years, after being asked to give back the ''pass words / user names '' for these sites, he lies to us , in the sense that he allowed us to believe he gave us the pass/user words, to later log in himself and remove the availability of our company from the service, feels to me as highly unlawfoul and manipulative with previous intent ?

tdlawyer :

Yes, that does sound very dodgy! In fact, there may be a criminal offence here, under the computer misuse act. It is something you could discuss with the police. However, I think in reality, you are likely to be left with having to issue a claim in the civil courts to obtain redress for this. But I do agree, if he's done this deliberately to try and divert business from you, then you may have a cause of action against him.

Customer:

Dear Sir, thank you for your replies, your time and expertise. It does fall within my expectations, and I shall be seeking legal advice with regard to the possible criminal offence. Kindest regards, *****

tdlawyer, Laywer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience: Lawyer with 9 years experience in employment related issues.
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