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Written by:
Bas Hollenberg


Breach of confidentiality clause

The Subdistrict Court found itself adjudicating the case of an employee of whose service contract a confidentiality clause (which extended to the employer’s clients and business associates), a non-compete clause and a non-solicitation clause had formed part, banning him on pain of penalty from making disclosure to third parties – both during the term of his employment contract and thereafter – of anything that had come to his attention in his performance of the duties with which he had been charged.

The employee was summarily dismissed for breach of his confidentiality and non-compete clauses. Having been offered a considerably better paid job elsewhere, he had resigned his current position and in the immediate wake of his resignation had sent the customer data base and customer purchase figures to his spouse’s e-mail address. The employer on learning that his employee was about to join one of his immediate competitors promptly suspended the employee and seized the latter’s laptop computer, and on finding out about the breach of the confidentiality clause summarily dismissed the employee, in a decision which given the gravity of the employee’s actions was upheld by the Subdistrict Court.

The Court ordered the employee to pay a € 5,000 penalty for breach of the confidentiality clause and a month’s salary for provoking his own summary dismissal, as well as banning him from holding on to any information pertaining to the employer or letting third parties in on any such information. The employee was given 24 hours – subject to periodic penalty payment in the amount of € 2,500 daily – to return all employer-related records and documents to his former employer. He was moreover ordered to delete any unauthorised data on his and his spouse’s computers, and had to allow a duly qualified company to check out the computers in order to confirm the absence of unauthorised data, the associated fees to be borne by him.

Dutch version: Overtreding geheimhoudingsbeding

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