In the ground-breaking case of Arthur J Gallagher Services
UK Limited and others v. Skriptchenko  EWHC 603, the
High Court has granted a mandatory injunction for interim relief
purposes, including an order that confidential information on the
defendants' computers belonging to Arthur J Gallagher
(Gallagher) be deleted.
Mr Skriptchenko worked for Gallagher until July 2014. In
February 2015, he started work for Portsoken Limited, a competitor
of Gallagher. Gallagher suspected that Mr Skriptchenko had
wrongfully used its confidential information and brought a claim
against him and Portsoken. It was admitted that Mr Skriptchenko had
taken a client list from Gallagher and that Portsoken had used that
information to approach over 300 of Gallagher's clients.
Following a successful application for a mandatory injunction
ordering Mr Skriptchenko to deliver up all his electronic devices
for inspection, and Portsoken to permit Gallagher's forensic IT
experts to access all of its computer systems to search for
information belonging to Gallagher, 4,000 documents were disclosed,
which showed that other directors and employees of Portsoken were
misusing Gallagher's confidential information.
The documents included a particularly notable email from the
chairman of Portsoken to one of its directors, which said:
"As I mentioned to Andrew, I don't think you can
formally put these in any presentation as we would obviously be
breaching confidentiality but would suggest that we keep in our
back pocket to show on a nudge nudge wink wink basis to interested
As such, Gallagher amended its claim to add another five
individuals as defendants, and applied for a further mandatory
injunction to allow them to:
inspect and take images from all of the defendants'
computers and electronic devices; and
delete any confidential information belonging to Gallagher
which was found on them.
The court's decision
Whilst the court could find no previous authority for ordering
the destruction of relevant material, it felt justified in doing so
because the defendants had admitted using Gallagher's
confidential information and the court found that the evidence
showed that they could not be trusted to seek out and delete the
material themselves. The court was fairly scathing of the
defendants in its judgment, noting that the material disclosed by
the defendants showed a "high degree of subterfuge" in
using Gallagher's confidential material.
This case demonstrates how far the courts may be willing to go
when it comes to breaches of confidence. However, it should be
noted that the order was made subject to a number of assurances,
including one that copies of the imaging of the devices would be
preserved so that, if material might subsequently be found to have
been wrongly removed, it could be preserved.
Each application for an injunction will of course turn on its
facts, and this was a very severe case of misuse of confidential
information, where it appears there was a high degree of collusion
at the most senior levels of the second defendant. However, where
an employer does wish to make an application for a mandatory
injunction for the destruction of confidential information, it
should consider whether the defendant's employment contract
contains any provisions dealing with the deletion of information,
as this could potentially influence a court in favour of granting
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