Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Confidential Information: Inspection of Employees' Home Computers

Thanks to Sarah Russell of Slater & Gordon for preparing this case summary
Is it possible to obtain an interim injunction compelling former employees to allow viewing and copying of their personal computer?

Yes, in the circumstances of Warm Zones v Sophie Thurley.

The former employees were accused of having copied and/or disclosed a customer database to a competitor whilst still employed by Warm Zones. The overriding consideration in granting or declining the injunction was which course was likely to involve the least risk of injustice if it subsequently transpired to have been 'wrong' at the full hearing.

There was email evidence that strongly suggested the employees were attempting to sell information from the database. Their contracts of employment contained a confidentiality clause. The Judge was 'sceptical' as to whether the employees could prove alternative explanations for their behaviour at a full hearing. In the event that they couldn't, damages would not be an adequate remedy for Warm Zones.

The injunction was granted notwithstanding the employees' contention that the application was designed to seek privileged information and harass the First Defendant during her unfair dismissal proceedings against Warm Zones.

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