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4 October 2010 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion

‘Directors and employees taking confidential information’ by Richard Woodman

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Foxtons is an organisation used to attracting headlines – not always favourable but usually demonstrating its success. However, its latest appearance across the media is firmly in the role of victim. Its unfortunate experience at the hands of a departing senior director is likely to ring the alarm bells with many businesses.

Timothy Hassell left his job as Operations Director after 12 years with the company in order to set up a rival agency. In the months before his departure he assiduously copied large sections of Foxtons’ client database.

After starting his new business he emailed numerous of these clients and by the time Foxtons found out what was going on, he had begun signing them up.

Databases of this sort are extremely valuable – perhaps invaluable. Foxtons put the value of theirs at £3 million. Fortunately, there is a wide range of legal protection available and prompt action can ensure that long term damage is kept to the bare minimum. Indeed it seems likely that Foxtons’
legal response will ensure that the only one left regretting his actions will be Mr Hassell.

There are a number of simple measures that businesses can take to ensure that they have done whatever they can to protect their confidential information. Properly drawn contracts are a must as are simple security measures. Employees must be in no doubt as to the information which the business treats as confidential.

But there will always be someone who thinks it is a good idea to get a flying start in a new business or look good to a new employer by hitting the ground running – using the former employers’ hard earned information for the purpose. If that happens the Foxtons case demonstrates that the Courts have a range of measures which can be deployed at short notice.

Royds Employment team regularly advises on the protection of confidential information and has frequently obtained injunctions and compensation for clients affected in this way. If you feel this is an issue that your business needs to know more about please email me.

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