Law firm obtains an interim injunction to prevent a former employee from disclosing confidential information relating to internal complaints made by women at the firm

Yeva Agayan

In the case of (1) Linklaters LLP (2) Linklaters Business Services v Frank Mellish [2019] EWHC 177 (QB) the High Court granted an interim injunction in favour of the law firm Linklaters to prevent a former employee from revealing confidential information about the firm and its employees.

The defendant’s employment contract contained a confidentiality clause with a non-exhaustive definition of “confidential information”. The defendant wanted to share with the media the firm’s culture relating to women in the workplace, specifically three examples of which one was an alleged sexual assault.  Linklaters did not want the identity if those involved nor the firm’s internal discussions to be made public.

The court granted the injunction for two main reasons.

  1. The information the defendant wanted to disclose fell under the definition of “confidential information” within his employment contract, following the judgment in ABC v Telegraph Media Group Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2329, and the publication of such information would result in a breach of the confidentiality clause.
  2. Freedom of expression had to be balanced against the privacy of those involved in the incidents. The European Convention on Human Rights permits interference with the freedom of expression if there is a legitimate aim and it is necessary and proportionate. The judge ruled that because the internal complaints procedure is confidential, there is an expectation that a complaint would remain confidential. In order to make sure those affected come forward and use the complaints procedure, the judge decided to uphold the expectation of confidentiality for policy reasons. The judge recognised that the claim was partly made by the law firm due to the fear of reputational harm, but he did not consider that it was the sole or main purpose.

The interim injunction was granted until the conclusion of the trial.

Post By Yeva Agayan (2 Posts)

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