Faccenda Chicken v Fowler: ChD 1984

The court was asked to restrain the plaintiff’s a former sales manager making use of information acquired during his employment which information the employer claimed to be confidential. F had set up a business in a similar field, the marketing of fresh chicken. The employment contract contained no express provision for such restraint.
Held: Goulding J identified three classes of information which an employee may have as he leaves an employment, and his duties to a former employer as regards each: ‘(1) Information which is trivial, or accessible from public sources :
There is no prohibition against use of such information by the employee, whether during or after employment.
(2) Information which is confidential, either because the employee was expressly told so, or because of its character, but which once learned necessarily remains in the employee’s head and becomes part of his own skill and knowledge applied in the course of his employer’s business.
So long as the employment continues, the employee cannot otherwise use or disclose such information without infidelity or breach of contract; but when he is no longer in the same service, he can use his full skill and knowledge for his own benefit in competition with his former employer. If the employer wants to protect information of this kind, he can do so by an express stipulation restraining the employee from competing with him (within reasonable limits of space and time) after the termination of the employment.
(3) Specific trade secrets
Even though they may necessarily have been learned by heart and even though the employee may have left the service, they cannot lawfully be used for anyone’s benefit but the employer’s.’

Goulding J
[1984] ICR 589, [1985] 1 All ER 724, [1985] FSR 105
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromFaccenda Chicken Ltd v Fowler CA 1986
Nature of Confidentiality in Information
The appellant plaintiff company had employed the defendant as sales manager. The contract of employment made no provision restricting use of confidential information. He left to set up in competition. The company now sought to prevent him using . .
CitedPoeton Industries Ltd and Another v Michael Ikem Horton CA 26-May-2000
The claimant sought damages and an injunction after their former employee set up in business, using, they said, information about their manufacturing procedures and customers obtained whilst employed by them. The defendant appealed the injunction . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Intellectual Property, Information

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.200321