Arnold Ayoo successfully appeared before Mr Justice Spencer QC sitting at the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in Manchester.
The appeal concerned a decision of Recorder Hartley QC in Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd v Robinson – a claim for breach of confidence in which the Defendant was found to have actively exploited the confidential information of the Claimant company after setting up his own rival company. Despite finding a breach of confidence, Recorder Hartley QC (i) declined to grant an injunction, relying on the fact that some time had passed since the breach and (ii) refused to order an inquiry into damages due to the fact that no evidence of loss had been put forward at trial. Mr Justice Spencer QC reversed both decisions and found that (i) the commercial utility of the confidential information had remained at a sufficient level so as to made an injunction appropriate, despite the passage of time and (ii) the Claimant was entitled to an inquiry into damages having pleaded the same.
Further, Mr Justice Spencer QC found that Recorder Hartley QC incorrectly interpreted a contractual term which, on its proper construction, prevented the operation of any rival company (whether or not it was actually trading) during the currency of the Defendant’s contract with the Claimant. The court below had found that the clause was focused on the prevention of rival ‘trading’ during the currency of the contract. However, Mr Justice Spencer QC ruled that the steps taken by the Defendant in respect of his new company, whilst he was party to a contract with the Claimant company, gave the Defendant a springboard to launch his own rival company in a manner which the clause sought to restrict.