Tag Archives: High court

Use of confidential information crucial to damages claim

The High Court has found two ex-employees of a claimant (C) liable for breaching their duties of confidence, but has rejected C’s claim for substantial damages. Instead, C was awarded the nominal sum of £2.

C had sought damages of £15 million, based on breaches of duty in copying and retaining confidential files. Crucially, the case was not brought on the basis that the defendants’ misuse of confidential information had caused C to suffer any loss or resulted in the defendants making any financial gain.

In the case of one of the defendants, the copied files were never subsequently accessed or used. The other defendant had made limited use of a few files, but C had not sought a remedy for the use actually made.

This case provides a useful illustration of the court’s approach to damages in cases where liability and breach of duty can be swiftly established, but establishing a loss to the claimant or gain to the defendant is less clear-cut. The judgment highlights the importance of focusing a claim for damages on the realities of the situation, rather than hypothetical outcomes. It also demonstrates that, even in cases of clear wrongdoing, the court’s role is not to punish but to recognise loss suffered, or gains illegitimately made.

Supporter pays for false allegations on football website

The High Court has awarded £30,000 to the chairman of Blackpool Football Club after a supporter of the club posted false allegations on a supporters’ website. An order was also made prohibiting the supporter from repeating the same or similar libels.

In 2015, the supporter posted material alleging that the chairman had entered into a foul-mouthed rant at him in public, had brandished a shotgun in such a manner as to make the supporter believe that he was about to be shot, and had put him in fear of his safety or even his life.

On the day of the court hearing the supporter accepted that the chairman had not, in fact, done what the supported had claimed and unreservedly apologised for an email sent to the chairman’s wife. The court thought it was clear that the email had been intended for the claimant’s wife to receive and read and this was taken into account along with the admission in deciding the amount of the damages.

British police right not to disclose personal data

Two men on trial in Thailand for the murder of two British people in September 2014, made requests to see data held on themselves by British police.

The High Court has affirmed the police decision not to disclose personal data to them.

The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis was found to have correctly applied the Data Protection Act exemptions from complying with subject access provisions where this would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.

Re-branding by parallel importer infringed pharmaceutical trade mark

In a case involving parallel imports of a drug into the UK from other European countries, the High Court held that the importer infringed the claimant’s trade marks by re-branding the European product with the brand name of the UK product.

Even though the re-branding was necessary in order for the defendants to compete on the UK market, this did not provide a defence to infringement.

Referral to social services not defamatory

The High Court has rejected a claim in defamation by a mother after hospital staff treating her four-year old daughter referred the daughter to social services following confrontational and erratic behaviour by the mother.

The judge considered that the hospital staff were genuinely concerned about the mother’s behaviour and its implications for her daughter’s welfare even though it was recognised upon closer investigation that the mother had a good relationship with her daughter.

There was a duty on a nurse or clinician to communicate such concerns to the appropriate people and there was a recognised channel at the hospital to deal with such situations.

In so far as such communication referred to an adult in a way which might be damaging to their reputation, it was likely to pass the test of being necessary and proportionate.

As the court had found that the allegations made against the claimant were substantially true, there was no reason to suppose that, when recording their impressions, the various staff members were not being honest and that malice was an issue.