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    Breach of interim injunction leads to individual being sent to prison

    This case, OCS Group UK Limited v Dadi & Ors, is about what happens when an individual breaches an interim injunction.

    In a relatively rare situation for employment lawyers, the Defendant Mr Dadi, was sent to prison, for contempt of Court when he breached prohibitions imposed on him by a Court Order.

    By way of background, the Claimant, OCS Group, is in the business of providing aircraft cleaning. They lost a contract for providing services to British Airways at Heathrow to Omni Serve and as a result, Mr Dadi’s employment transferred from OCS Group to Omni Serv by way of a TUPE transfer. One of the other Defendants, Mr Ahitan, was Mr Dadi’s former boss at OCS and they had developed a close relationship.

    The Order

    In an earlier hearing, the Claimant was granted an interim injunction against Mr Dadi by a Court Order dated 27 February 2017. The Order:

    • prohibited Mr Dadi from disclosing to a third party or transmitting by any means any confidential information belonging to the Claimant​;
    • required Mr Dadi to provide information about what confidential information he had sent to his personal email address or a third party​;
    • put Mr Dadi under an obligation not to destroy evidence​; and
    • put Mr Dadi under an obligation not to inform any third parties of the application, the evidence, the contents of the Order or warn anyone that proceedings may be brought.

    Mr Dadi was served with a copy of the Order by the Claimant’s in-house Counsel on the afternoon of 27 February 2017. At that point he was strongly encouraged to get independent legal advice urgently.

    What did Mr Dadi do?

    Mr Dadi subsequently undertook the following acts, all of which were in breach of the Order (which he subsequently confirmed that he had done in his witness statement):

    • he called Mr Ahitan immediately after receiving the Order and told him about it;
    • a few hours after speaking to Mr Ahitan, he deleted several emails from his mobile phone;
    • the following day he deleted 8,000 emails from his web-based email account; and
    • he told various members of his family about the Order.

    Mr Dadi said that he had done these things because Mr Ahitan had asked him to do them and he had known him and trusted him for 18 years. Mr Dadi confirmed that he didn’t receive any financial benefit for providing the information.

    Backtracking

    Three days later Mr Dadi took legal advice and realised the error of his ways. Mr Dadi threw himself at the mercy of the Court, and sought to assist the Claimant in every single way, including co-operating with their solicitors by handing over his computer and giving authority to try and recover the deleted emails (although this was unlikely to be possible because of the delay following their deletion). Mr Dadi sought a character reference from his cousin’s husband, submitted evidence about his mother’s health, his own health and the detrimental impact that a custodial sentence would have on his reputation within the Sikh community.

    The sentence

    The Court said that the object of the penalty is both to punish an individual’s conduct in defiance of the Court Order and to hold out the threat of future punishment.

    In these situations the Court can take the following points into account:

    1. Whether the Claimant has been prejudiced by virtue of the contempt and whether the prejudice is capable of remedy;
    2. The extent to which they have acted under pressure;
    3. Whether the breach of the Order was deliberate;
    4. The degree of culpability;
    5. Whether the individual has been placed in breach of the Order as a result of the conduct of others;
    6. Whether the individual appreciates the seriousness of an individual breach;
    7. Whether the individual has co-operated;
    8. Whether the individual admitted his contempt at an early stage;
    9. Whether he has made a sincere apology for his contempt and has been frank with the Court in admitting his contempt; and
    10. His character and relevant antecedents.

    In considering the Defendant’s sentence, the Judge said that “the system will not work if people think that they can ignore Court Orders and destroy evidence".​

    The Defendant was given a sentence of six weeks imprisonment to mark the Court's strong disapproval of his contact and as a deterrence both in respect of his further compliance with Court Orders and as a warning to others.​

    The lesson here is that potential breach of interim injunctions should be taken seriously!