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Archer v Williams [2003] EWHC 1670



Injunction granted in relation to information disclosed in breach of employment contract

Facts

The claimant (A) was the wife of a well-known politician. A previously employed the defendant (W) as a personal assistant. A dismissed W after receiving information that W planned to sell her story to the press. After a newspaper article appeared alleging that A had undergone cosmetic surgery, A obtained an interim injunction to restrain further publication. 

Issue

A subsequently sought a permanent injunction and damages from W. The key issues to be considered were whether W was liable for the publication in the newspapers and whether A was entitled to damages for hurt feelings as a result of the breach of confidence.

Held

In relation to the breach of confidence, it was held that it must have been obvious to W that there was a substantial risk that the information that she was disclosing would ultimately be published in the press. Therefore, W was liable for breach of confidence in relation to the published Sunday Mirror article. Accordingly, A was granted an injunction restraining W from disclosing details about her employment and was awarded damages for breach of confidence and injury to feelings. The Court observed that W was in clear breach of her employment contract by imparting confidential information which she had received during the course of her employment. There was no particular public interest in the information which was disclosed by W and as such her right to freedom of expression did not override A’s right to family life in terms of Article 8 ECHR.

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