Breach of confidence

Breach of confidence law seeks to protect secret or commercially valuable information and prevents others from using that information to obtain unfair benefits for themselves.

The law of confidence has roots in the equitable jurisdiction of the courts and is heavily predicated upon case law, although statutory recognition of the law of breach of confidence can be found in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, which confirms: ‘s.171(1)(e) – Nothing in this Part affects the operation of any rule of equity relating to breaches of trust or confidence.’

Action for breach of confidence

In an action for breach of confidence, the pursuer seeks to restrict the dissemination of commercially valuable information. This area of law is particularly relevant to patents and registered designs. A breach may occur, for example, where one does not maintain secrecy prior to a patent being awarded.

An action for breach of confidence may arise where the information has the requisite quality of confidence, was provided in circumstances where an obligation of confidence arose, and where an unauthorised disclosure of that confidential information took place.

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