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Nick Goodfellow succeeds in passing off trial


PSN Recruitments Limited (t/ Cosmopolitan Recruitment) v Ludley and Greenscape Specialist Recruitment Limited [2023] EWHC 3153 (IPEC)

Judgment was handed down in the above claim, giving judgment for the Claimant on its claims for passing off and breach of confidence, based on the actions of a former employee who (a) sought to pass off his new business as being a continuation of that of his former employer, and (b) used client contact details collated by his former employer in order to carry out his actions in passing off.

On 8 December 2023, the Judge (Her Honour Judge Melissa Clarke sitting as a High Court Judge) awarded damages for passing off, including a damages award for (a) loss of profits, calculated on a “top down” as opposed to “bottom up” basis [71]-[74], (b) loss of reputation [74].  The Judge made adverse findings against the Defendant in respect of his approach to his oral/witness evidence [14,35], document destruction [35] and disclosure [65] and decided that it was right to adopt a generous approach to the Claimant when analysing proof of loss [65]:

“…it seems to me right that although the burden is and remains on the Claimant, the Court should view the Claimant’s attempts to quantify the loss benevolently, given its findings on the Defendants’ approach to evidence. To do otherwise would be to reward the Defendant for that approach, which is to be deprecated”

The Judge rejected the argument that the customer list was not sufficiently confidential to warrant protection under the equitable duty of confidence (post termination), having regard (inter alia) to the value of such information to a recruitment business [76]-[98].  The judgment is available here.

Nick Goodfellow (2009 call) acted for the successful Claimant, instructed by Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors.

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