Trade Secrets and the Law of Breach of Confidence – Case law
“A person ought to keep a secret if he has said that he will do so”.
This moral precept has been translated into a legal liability by the English Courts of some considerable breadth. This area of law is concerned with secrets of all kinds. They may be of a personal, commercial or industrial nature.
The law of breach of confidence has its roots in the equitable jurisdiction of the Courts, and is almost entirely built upon case law. Although there is some statutory recognition of the law of breach of confidence in s.171(1)(e) of 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.
There is therefore, a substantial corpus of case law with regard to the law of breach of confidence, and a selection of the more important and most recent decisions of the English High Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords, now the Supreme Court, appear below.
Coco v. A.N. Clark (Engineers) Limited – High Court ChD – 1 July 1968
Faccenda Chicken Limited. v. Fowler & Ors – Court of Appeal – 5 December 1985
Douglas & Ors v. Hello! Limited & Ors – House of Lords – 2 May 2007
Markem Corporation & Ors v. Zipher Limited & Ors – Court of Appeal – 22 March 2005