Legal Consequences of Leaking Confidential Information

Confidential information must not be divulged without permission from the information's source. It is an extensive concept that embraces business-related secrets as well as general information having the required quality of confidence. For example some information pertaining to personal lives are held confidential, such as medical records. It can cover a wide range of materials and can often have great value. An example is a trade secret, such as the Coco Cola recipe. It is confidential information and it has great value. Details of commercial relationships with customers and suppliers also have their corresponding value. Value is lost when confidential information becomes public. Damage can be caused if privacy is violated.

Information remains confidential only so long as it is kept a secret. There are several circumstances in which the obligation arises to keep the information confidential. One, the confidante must receive the information in confidence. That means that he must be asked to treat the information as confidential or it must be obvious to him or her that the information is given in confidence. The best way to do that is to ask the confidante to sign a confidentiality contract. But that is not in itself enough. Precautions for protection must be taken to keep the information secret, such as logging documents and nondisclosure forms, keeping materials under lock and key and extracting a confidential agreement. Insertion of a confidentiality clause into an employment contract is not enough to protect your confidential information.

If you have signed a nondisclosure agreement, it is important that you keep your end of the agreement as defined by the contract that you have signed. You are not only facing court charges but also serious monetary problems. More often that not, you will also be risking your current job. An action for breach of confidence is usually brought to a county court, which could last a long time. A successful plaintiff is entitled to a form of judicial relief, such as: injunction against spreading of the information, an account of profits or an award of damages, and a declaration. In law, a declaration usually refers to a verdict of the court or a settlement of an arbitration tribunal. It is an obligatory intercession of the rights or other legal relation of the party that does not provide for or order enforcement.

Violation of the agreement generally carries the possibility of stiff financial penalties to the one who broke the confidential agreement. The case could last a long time, and lawyer fees are very high. Not to mention, if found guilty, you have to pay for the damages that you have caused the other party. Monetary compensation granted to plaintiffs is usually in large amounts. Several magazines, such as Enquirer, Which, etc. have fired and filed cases against employees who have breached confidentiality. This would show you that you are at risk of losing your job when found guilty that you have divulged information that is important to the company.


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