The High Court recently granted a hedge fund an interim non-disclosure order to restrain the publication of confidential information which had been provided to potential investors and subsequently leaked to the press: Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP v (1) Reuters Limited, (2) Maiya Keidan, and (3) Person or Persons Unknown (who has/have leaked confidential investment documents belonging to the Claimant) 2017 EWHC 644 (QB).
The court accepted that there was a public interest in publication of the information as hedge funds, their effect on the economy and the identity of their investors are matters of public interest. However, that interest was outweighed by the competing public interest in favour of maintaining confidentiality.
This is a helpful decision for financial services firms or others who disseminate confidential and/or proprietary information for the purposes of seeking investment. The court recognised a strong public interest in ensuring that investors are able to receive full and frank disclosure of key investment information, which may allow such information to be shared with increased confidence in similar circumstances.
In any event, as a practical matter, security measures (eg encryption and passwords) and supporting confidentiality agreements should be put in place when sharing confidential information to minimise the risk of onward dissemination, and the documents should make clear on their face that they contain confidential information so that any recipient (intended or not) will be on notice of their confidential nature.
Alan Watts, Neil Blake and Rebecca Murtha in our disputes team consider the decision further below.