Disclosing Confidential Information

Litigation After Disclosing Confidential Information

An employee can face disciplinary proceedings, after disclosing confidential information. The company could bring in a professional regulatory organisation to carry out the proceedings. If you work for a company that wants to keep the client list confidential, you will have signed an NDA that stipulates it. You’ll be in breach of contract, if you go on to disclose names on the client list to a third party. The matter will be even more serious, if the third party is a competitor.

The Ambiguity Of Policy

Policies and rules are often ambiguous. Confidential information can also be ambiguous. How can you discern what’s confidential and what isn’t? To what extent should you keep something confidential and for how long? For instance, if a client list is confidential, disclosing the name of one client’s business name may be acceptable. After all, many businesses use client details for marketing – testimonial and company name.

Clarity To Avoid Pitfalls

Common sense tells us, without having to look at the NDA narrative, that you can’t share your employer’s client list with a direct competitor. But if you disclose even one name on the list to a third party, you could be in breach of contract. Some confidential information is highly sensitive and your common sense will help you decide whether you should disclose it. But pitfalls happen when there’s no clarity in the NDA. Clarity helps avoid pitfalls.

Ask The Client

The confidentiality needed for some client details can be obvious – for instance, bank details – but other details aren’t obvious – for instance, the name of the company. A client might be OK with a member of staff letting a third party know the name of a company. But they may oppose to the actual services being used. There’s ambiguity in some aspects of confidentiality, but an NDA should make it clear. Can you disclose the name of your client’s company and to whom?

Ask Your Employer

When is a client’s identifiable details confidential? When the client asks for confidentiality. But equally, your employer will decide what can and can’t be disclosed. An employer needs to make it clear in an NDA that the client list is confidential, meaning every single name on the list is confidential. The identity of clients cannot be disclosed, even if a member of staff leaves the company. Some NDAs will stipulate a time span by which a member of staff is bound by contract in relation to confidentiality. The NDA will also make it clear which details must be kept confidential.

If you’d like to review or draft an NDA to protect confidential information, please get in touch with one of our business lawyers. SG

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