News and Events

Removal of Confidential Documents for Legal Advice

  • Posted

Is a whistleblower entitled to remove confidential legal documents from their employer for the purpose of taking legal advice?

It seems not, held the High Court during an interim injunction application in Nissan v Passi.

Mr Passi had taken, and refused to return/delete, over 100 sensitive and confidential documents belonging to his ex-employer. He said he had taken them for the purpose of seeking legal advice, and wanted to retain them because he lacked confidence that his ex-employer would disclose them in his pending whistleblowing litigation.

The High Court held that an interim injunction should be granted for return and deletion of those documents. The ex-employee had no proprietary interest in the documents, whereas the ex-employer did (para 13). There was no justification for allowing the ex-employee to ‘pre-empt’ what might happen during disclosure on the assumption the employer would not comply with its obligations (para 18).