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Confidential information and trade secrets are increasingly being recognised as important to businesses, especially in terms of value.
If a business’s confidential information and secrets could not be protected, it would lead to an unviable and unfair business world. Ex-employees and competitors would have no fetters on stealing information and setting up a rival business.
Thankfully, these intangible rights can be protected. To be considered protectable, the information must be objectively confidential and not just treated as such. If disclosed, it must be disclosed in circumstances of confidence, in order to retain its status as confidential. The public bar on a Friday evening is not a good setting!
Some relationships are inherently confidential, e.g. employer/employee, doctor/patient, client/solicitor. However, it is always worth stressing the confidential nature of the information being disclosed. In some circumstances it is better to play even safer by ensuring that a confidentiality agreement is entered into before any confidential information is disclosed.
A breach of confidentiality occurs when information, given under confidential circumstances, is misused. Misuse could be disclosure to a third party, use of the information for their own gain or use of the information for purposes other than the purpose for which the information was disclosed.
Points to Note
Identify your valuable confidential information
Ensure confidential information is only disclosed in confidential circumstances
Ensure all employment contracts contain confidentiality clauses
Use confidentiality agreements routinely
Don’t disclose information given to you in confidenceTake action if your confidential information is misused