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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50173
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I was a school governor and resigned last year. I have subsequently

Customer Question

I was a school governor and resigned last year. I have subsequently found out that despite having signed a confidentiality agreement, detail of meetings and disagreements I was involved in have been passed on to others. This has lead to my surname now being used to describe someone arguing in a meeting. I am aware this has been shared outside the governing body and I have been shown email evidence of this and would like advice on my potential course of action re defamation of character, breach of contract etc
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Have you suffered any losses as a result?

JACUSTOMER-rk1o1fzl- :

not financial, but believe there has been a breech of contract and loss to my reputation in the community

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for clarifying. Your legal rights in this situation are as follows:

1. Defamation – I cannot see this being the case here. First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:
• The statement has to be untrue.
• It must directly identify the complainant.
• It must have been published, usually communicated to at least another person.
• It must be in a form of words, which would tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of ‘right thinking members of society generally', expose the claimant to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.

If what has been released was simply factual information, such as details of meetings held, etc then this is not defamation. The employer has not published untruthful information about you – they may have disclosed information they should have kept confidential but it does not make this defamatory. Even if this was defamation you are looking at a very complex and expensive claim – easily thousands to pursue. It is often an unrealistic claim for individuals to make.

2. Breach of contract – if the employer has broken a specific term of the confidentiality agreement then you may accuse them of acting in breach of contract. The problem is what will you pursue them for. A breach of contract claim is there to compensate you for any losses incurred as a result of the other party’s breach. If you have not suffered any actual losses, rather have only been inconvenienced, then you will not have anything to claim for. If your reputation has been affected then again you may only claim if you can show that this has or will affect you in the future and you will suffer losses as a result. So you need to quantify your losses before you consider making a claim.

3. Breach of data protection – If a party has acted in contravention of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), then anyone who has suffered damage or distress as a result can potentially make a claim.

The first step is to report the alleged contravention to the Information Commissioner’s Office. They are the regulatory body that deals with breaches of data protection regulations and can investigate and fine the infringing party. However they will not award compensation to the victim so the only way to try and get any compensation is by going through court.

If the victim has only suffered distress and no financial damages, compensation is not available unless the breach related to the “special purposes” which means it was related to the processing of artistic, literary or journalistic information. Any other breaches, such as the one here, will not qualify.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help: