A former solicitor has agreed to pay £50,000 damages to his ex-employer after a claim about data obtained during his notice period.
Michael Lent, previously a commercial litigation solicitor, had overseen Temple Legal Protection’s after-the-event insurance business since his appointment as director in 2008.
He left in February this year to establish his own underwriting agency as part of Castel Underwriting.
But Temple alleged he had made use of the firm’s confidential data and approached Temple clients to help establish the new business.
Lent denied these allegations but, after proceedings were issued in the Chancery Division of the High Court, the parties agreed a consent order earlier this month.
The order stated that Lent shall pay £50,000 to Temple in damages and cover Temple’s costs in the sum of £115,000. The order also established an eight-month ‘springboard injunction’ to stop Lent using any information or contacts from his previous employer to gain a commercial advantage.
Temple had instructed employment partner Paul Maynard at Sussex firm Gaby Hardwicke, who conducted an investigation into the contact between Lent and Temple’s clients.
In his witness statement Lent admitted breaching his fiduciary and contractual duties.
Maynard said: ‘It is surprising that a very senior and experienced solicitor was either totally unaware of his fiduciary duties as a director or, alternatively, felt able to get away with such blatant illegality.’
In a statement, Chris Wait, managing director of Temple, said the firm was prepared to let Lent move on with its best wishes, but it had ‘little choice other than to take swift action to protect the company’s commercial interests’.
A spokesperson for Castel said: ‘Our discussions with potential new business partners are strictly confidential, and we never comment on legal proceedings to which we were not party. We would not, however, ever ask anyone to break a contractual agreement.’