Glympton Services (Jersey) Limited v Wright [2014] JRC162 - Ogier successfully obtain a declaration that a former employee is bound by an unsigned contract and confidentiality clause

Nick Williams, assisted by Daniel Read, recently appeared before the Royal Court to obtain a declaration and final injunction against a former employee of Glympton Services (Jersey) Limited, who was threatening to publish confidential information about them.

The case is notable for two reasons:

  1. The Royal Court upheld the express terms of an unsigned confidentiality obligation.  The Defendant's position was that as these were unsigned, she was not bound by the confidentiality clause.  The Royal Court accepted that the wealth of evidence showed that not only had the Defendant been aware of the confidentiality clause but that she had acted in a way that was consistent with the terms of the unsigned contract.  Therefore the Royal Court held that the terms of the unsigned contract of employment included the confidentiality clause.
  2. The Royal Court then went on to grant a declaration that the Defendant was bound by the confidentiality clause.  A declaration such as this is unusual.  However in this case such a declaration was the only way in which the Plaintiff could get the fullest justice.  It was also material that the only person who would be affected by the declaration was the Defendant.

Practice Point: this case illustrates the danger of failing to ensure that contracts of employment, restrictive covenants and confidentiality clauses are properly signed.  Although it is possible to prove that an employee is bound by unsigned terms, this can be an expensive and drawn out process.  We recommend ensuring that express terms, particularly those that impose an obligation on employees, are signed.

Nautech Services Limited v CSS Limited [2014] JRC159 - LinkedIn and confidential information

In a recent decision of the Royal Court, the court was asked to consider the status of a LinkedIn account, and who was the owner of that account.

One of the Defendants, Mr Inns, had been responsible for maintaining Nautech's LinkedIn account.  The Royal Court accepted therefore that he was the owner of the copyright in Nautech's LinkedIn account and not Nautech.  However the Royal Court also stated that this ownership could be overridden by the terms of a contract.

Mr Inns also transposed a number of contacts from his personal email account to a new LinkedIn account for CSS.  Unfortunately for Mr Inns, 650 of these contacts had been obtained from his Nautech Blackberry and therefore constituted confidential information.  He was therefore held to have breached the terms of an interim injunction by uploading these names onto LinkedIn.

The case is also important as it is deals with the meaning and ownership of a database within the meaning of the Intellectual Property (Unregistered Rights) (Jersey) Law 2011.  Essentially in order to constitute a database, there needs to be an element of judgment and not just labour or skill.  Nautech's list of skilled contractors constituted a) confidential information and b) a database within the meaning of the Intellectual Property (Unregistered Rights) (Jersey) Law 2011.  Therefore unauthorised use of this information by CSS or Mr Inns could be prevented by Nautech.

Practice Points: employees' use of social media needs to be considered quite carefully, and appropriate steps should be taken to limit the use and ownership of such accounts.  Contractual terms should be used to protect your position, including the ownership of databases, contacts and client lists, and what an employee needs to do in the event of a termination.

Redundancy - maximum weekly amount increased from 1 October 2014

The States of Jersey have recently announced that the maximum weekly amount payable for statutory redundancy is to be increased from £660 to £670.  This increase will apply to any redundancy that occurs after 1 October 2014.