Former employee sent to prison for deleting evidence in a claim concerning breach of confidentiality provisions

18.09.2017

OCS Group -v- Dadi, a recent decision of the High Court, is a useful reminder that the penalty for acting in contempt of court can be imprisonment.
Mr Dadi was employed by OCS. Shortly before his employment was due to transfer under TUPE, OCS brought a claim against Mr Dadi, the transferee, and a number of employees, alleging that Mr Dadi had emailed confidential information to his personal email account. OCS obtained an interim injunction without notice. Amongst other things, Mr Dadi was required to preserve electronic documents pending the return date, and was prohibited from disclosing the existence of the order to anyone else. This was explained to him by OCS’ in-house solicitor, who served the notice on him and read out the relevant sections and the penal notice.
Notwithstanding this, Mr Dadi proceeded to call one of the other defendants to tell him about the injunction, and the next day he deleted over 8000 emails. He subsequently took legal advice and owned up to what he had done. He cooperated fully with a forensic investigation of his computer and made submissions to the court on various mitigating circumstances, e.g. his caring responsibilities. The court however held that a sentence of 6 weeks’ imprisonment was the appropriate sanction – partly because his conduct in breaching the order had been deliberate, and also partly to act as a deterrent to others.
This case is a useful reminder of the extent of the court’s powers where an individual acts in contempt of court.

Justin Costley

Author