Former employee committed to prison for contempt after breaching injunction


3 mins

Posted on 21 Aug 2017

A former employee has been committed to prison for six weeks for contempt of court after breaching an injunction.   

Speedread

A former employee has been committed to prison for six weeks for contempt of court after breaching an injunction.  The Court imposed a prison sentence to mark its strong disapproval of the employee’s conduct and to act as a deterrent and as a warnings to others.  Employees served with an injunction should read its terms very carefully and seek legal advice straightaway.    

Facts

In OCS Group UK Ltd v Dadi, OCS alleged that Mr Dadi had conspired with his former manager, Mr Ahitan, to breach his breach his confidentiality obligations and disclose confidential information to its competitor, Omni Serv, for whom Mr Ahitan now worked.  It alleged that he had emailed confidential information to his personal email account.  OCS obtained an interim injunction which, amongst other things, required him to preserve the emails and not to disclose the existence of the injunction to anyone else except his legal advisors.  

The order contained a penal notice which warned him that he would be in contempt of court if he breached the order  which could result in imprisonment.  OCS’s lawyer served the order on Mr Dadi personally, read out the penal notice and explained he should take legal advice.  

Mr Dadi immediately informed Mr Ahitan of the injunction and deleted several emails.  The next day he deleted 8,000 further emails and informed various family members of the injunction.  He subsequently took legal advice and decided to come clean and told the court what he had done.   OCS applied to have him committed to prison for contempt.

Decision

The High Court committed Mr Dadi to six weeks in prison for contempt.  Although imprisonment was a punishment of last resort it decided to impose a prison sentence to mark the court’s strong disapproval of his conduct and to act as a deterrent in terms of his future compliance with court orders and as a warnings to others.   It took into account the fact that the breaches were deliberate and that he must have known that the prohibition on tipping off was intended to refer to Mr Ahitan.  By way of mitigation, it also took into account the fact that he had cooperated in trying to retrieve the emails and that he was truly sorry. 

Implications   

Employees who breach the terms of injunctions face a real risk of ending up in prison.  They should read the terms of the injunction very carefully and seek legal advice straightaway.    

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