Universal Thermosensors Ltd v Hibben and Others: ChD 8 Jul 1992

After complex litigation, the remaining issues were a claim for damages by the claimant in respect of the defendant’s misuse of confidential information and a counterclaim by the defendants for loss falling within the claimant’s cross-undertaking in damages given when obtaining interlocutory injunctive relief.
Held: In the light of the facts established at trial, the interlocutory injunction granted had gone beyond what was required for the proper protection of the plaintiff’s legitimate rights, because it had put the plaintiff into a better position than if there had been no misuse of information. By the time it was granted, sufficient time had expired for the relevant information to have been independently compiled. The plaintiff should not be put in a better position than if there had been no breach of confidence. An injunction restraining a defendant from dealing with customers who had already been approached was not appropriate and damages were the remedy in respect of past wrongs. It was important to distinguish between an injunction to prevent future misuse of confidential information and relief in respect of misuse which had already occurred before the date of the injunction. In some cases an injunction for a limited period could be justified ‘as affording the means for putting the parties back into the position they would have occupied had there been no misuse’ or ‘as affording the means of preventing the defendants from benefiting from the springboard effect of their use of the plaintiff’s confidential information’. If the interlocutory injunction had had the effect ‘simply of restoring the parties to the competitive position they each sought to occupy and that each would have occupied but for the defendants’ misconduct’, ‘such a form of injunction would be fair and just’. The court set out steps to be taken to protect defendants in Anton Piller executions.

Sir Donald Nicholls VC
Gazette 08-Jul-1992, [1992] 1 WLR 840
England and Wales
CitedRoger Bullivant Ltd v Ellis CA 1987
The plaintiffs sought various remedies against an ex-employee who had set up a company in competition with the plaintiffs. One was for breach of confidence in respect of a card index of customer contacts, a copy of which the first defendant had . .
CitedStoke-on-Trent City Council v W and J Wass Ltd CA 1988
The council had operated open markets on its land under statutory authority. In breach of the statute, the defendant operated a market on a different day, but within the excluded area. This was a nuisance actionable on proof of damage. The council . .

Cited by:
CitedVestergaard Frandsen A/S and Others v Bestnet Europe Ltd and Others ChD 26-Jun-2009
Arnold J reviewed the authorities and expressed his conclusion that an injunction will not be granted to prevent a future publication of information that has ceased to be confidential. He qualified this statement in relation to information that . .
CitedBritish Broadcasting Corporation v Harpercollins Publishers Ltd and Another ChD 4-Oct-2010
The claimant sought an injunction and damages to prevent the defendant publishing a book identifying himself as ‘the Stig’ saying that this broke his undertaking of confidentialty as to his identity, a necessary part of the character in the TV . .
CitedFairstar Heavy Transport Nv v Adkins and Another CA 19-Jul-2013
The court was asked whether the appellant company was entitled to an order requiring its former Chief Executive Officer, after the termination of his appointment, to give it access to the content of emails relating to its business affairs, and . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

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Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.90084