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Employee imprisoned for disobeying injunction

19 September 2017

The seriousness of court orders can sometimes go unnoticed and unfortunately for Mr Dadi, a former employee of the OCS Group UK, this resulted in him receiving a 6 week prison sentence after he breached an interim injunction imposed by the High Court.

OCS Group alleged that Mr Dadi had sent to his personal email account confidential information belonging to the company and sought an interim injunction from the High Court, which was granted. The terms of the order provided that Mr Dadi was not to destroy evidence nor was he to inform anyone of the proceedings except for the purposes of obtaining legal advice. The order also contained the usual penal notice saying that any such breach of the order would be contempt of court and could lead to a period of imprisonment. The court order was served on Mr Dadi by OCS Group’s solicitor who advised Mr Dadi to seek legal advice

Immediately after receiving the order, Mr Dadi decided to delete emails from his personal email account and, the following day, deleted a further 8,000 emails from his personal account. He also contacted a colleague, Mr Ahitan, and informed him of the proceedings. These were clear breaches of the court order.

Mr Dadi subsequently sought legal advice and at the hearing, he admitted his actions but said that he was prepared to help the court in recovering the deleted emails. However, due to the time that had lapsed between the deletion of emails and the court hearing, it was not possible to recover the emails. OCS Group therefore applied for Mr Dadi to be committed to prison for contempt of court.

Mr Dadi mitigated that he panicked when he had first received the order and had not read it properly. He only became aware of the seriousness of the order once he had obtained legal advice and he had tried to assist the court in retrieving the emails. He asserted that he was a man of good character and if he were sent to prison, he would find it harder to obtain employment in the future, which would affect his family commitments such as caring for an elderly and unwell mother.

The High Court Judge felt that Mr Dadi’s conduct was so severe that only a prison sentence was the available option. In reaching the decision to impose a custodial sentence, Mrs Justice Rose stated that: “I have come to the conclusion that a short sentence of imprisonment of six weeks must be imposed on Mr Dadi to mark the court's strong disapproval of his conduct and to act as a deterrence both in respect of his further compliance with the orders of the court and as a warning to others who might be tempted to flout the court's orders in this manner”.

She went onto state that, “if there had been a single breach, such as the immediate deleting of emails, I might have been able to accept Mr Dadi's assertion that his conduct was the result of panic immediately upon receipt of the Order. But that evidence is undermined by the fact that he carried out much more extensive deletions of emails the following day. Mr Dadi therefore had no one else but himself to blame for the breaches and he must have realised that he was doing precisely what the order prohibited him from doing”.

This case will serve as a strict warning to individuals going forward as it demonstrates how serious it is to breach a court order and the devastating consequences it can lead to. It should make an individual think to themselves before carrying out the breach, ‘is this worth going to prison for?’ as surely the answer would be no.

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By Emily Jones