In the High Court decision of OCS Group UK v Dadi a former employee was sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment for breaches of an interim injunction in a dispute over confidential information.
The defendant, Mr Dadi, was an employee of the Claimant, OCS Group UK, an aviation cleaning contractor at Heathrow. When OCS lost an aircraft cleaning contract to one of its competitors, Omniserv, Mr Dadi transferred to OmniServ under TUPE.
Before the TUPE transfer, OCS brought an action in the High Court against Mr Dadi, Omniserv and others claiming that Mr Dadi had:
- Conspired with another defendant, Mr Ahitan, to breach his employment contract; and
- Emailed confidential information belonging to OCS to his private email account.
OCS obtained an interim injunction against Mr Dadi which:
- Prohibited him from disclosing or making use of any of OCS’s confidential information;
- Required him to provide information to the court about what disclosures he had made of that information;
- Required him to preserve hard copy and electronic documents pending the return date; and
- Prohibited him from disclosing to anyone else, save his legal advisers, the existence of the order or the possibility of proceedings being commenced.
Before seeking advice, Mr Dadi breached the order by tipping off others about the injunction and deleting around 8,000 emails. After obtaining legal advice, he admitted breaching the order and co-operated with OCS in trying (unsuccessfully) to recover the deleted emails.
The High Court sentenced Mr Daddi to six weeks in prison for contempt of court. While imprisonment was always a punishment of last resort, a short sentence of imprisonment of six weeks had to be imposed on Mr Dadi to mark the court’s disapproval of his conduct and to act as a deterrent to others failing to comply with court orders.
It is rare to see these powers being used in an employment context, and the case serves as a strong reminder of the importance of complying strictly with interim injunctions aimed at preserving evidence pending trial.