UK: Employee documents created using employer’s IT systems may not be privileged against the employer

Simpkin v The Berkeley Group Holdings plc highlights the potential benefits for employers of a clear and comprehensive IT policy, referred to in the employment contract and signed by an employee, which provides that emails and documents sent using the employer’s IT system are the employer’s property and will be subject to monitoring. The employer had such a policy in Simpkin and the High Court ruled that an employee who created and stored documents on the employer’s IT system had no reasonable expectation of privacy. As a result, documents and emails he sent from the employer’s system to his home email were not confidential or privileged as against the employer.

It was relevant that the documents contained the employer’s financial information and were not password protected or stored in a private folder separate from work documents, and the Court left open whether its decision would have been different had this not been the case.  The HSF litigation blog post here discusses the case in more detail.

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Filed under Data protection and privacy, Jurisdiction: UK, Protection of business interests (including restrictive covenants and confidential information)

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