Breach of confidence: the latest from the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court gave judgment today in Vestergaard Frandsen A/S v. Bestnet Europe Limited [2013] UKSC 31. The appeal concerned whether a company (Vestergaard) could sue a former employee – who had helped to establish a rival business – for breach of confidence in circumstances where the former employee (i) had never herself acquired the confidential information in question and (ii) did not know at the time that the rival business was using the confidential information. The sole judgment was given by Lord Neuberger, who held that (i) and (ii) precluded liability in breach of confidence on the part of the former employee.

The judgment does not contain any novel or radical principles. But information lawyers will wish to note the useful overview of the types of cases in which liability will arise (paragraphs 22-27), and Lord Neuberger’s analysis of the limits of liability based on common design (paragraphs 32-39).

Ben Hooper