In Arthur J Gallagher Services UK Ltd & Ors v Skriptchenkov & Ors, the first defendant was a former senior employee who had joined a rival company – Portsoken (the second defendant). Gallagher claimed that Portsoken staff members had retained documents containing confidential information belonging to the claimants. It claimed the information – including names of clients, renewal dates, rates and premiums – had been used to approach the claimants’ clients. The defendants admitted to holding some of the claimants’ confidential information but denied using it.
In an earlier application for injunctive relief, the defendants had given undertakings not to use the claimants’ confidential information to deal with restricted clients. In this application, the claimants applied for more extensive relief that would require the defendants to give access to their computer systems. Any confidential information or documents belonging to the claimants would be deleted.
The court agreed that the defendants “could not be trusted to police themselves” and made an order for the defendants’ computers to be searched and imaged. Where both parties agree that information found is confidential, it should be destroyed. Where the parties cannot agree on what is confidential there will be a dispute resolution process to be settled by the court.
Such an order had to contain safeguards:
- the defendant’s devices would be searched by an independent expert (appointed by the defendant); and
- a copy of the deleted material would be preserved in order for it to be returned to the defendants if necessary.
The defendants stated their intention to appeal, claiming that the order granted does not meet the tests of necessity and proportionality.