Q&As

Do documents containing confidential information fall within the definition of 'goods' pursuant to the Torts (Interference of Goods) Act 1977 (T(IG)A 1977), such that the T(IG)A 1977 would apply in a case where a party refuses to return the confidential documents? Would this be the same for electronic documents? Alternatively, would there be a possible action in breach of confidence in this situation?

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Produced in partnership with Steven Murray of Harrison Clark Rickerbys
Published on LexisPSL on 28/09/2016

The following Information Law Q&A produced in partnership with Steven Murray of Harrison Clark Rickerbys provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Do documents containing confidential information fall within the definition of 'goods' pursuant to the Torts (Interference of Goods) Act 1977 (T(IG)A 1977), such that the T(IG)A 1977 would apply in a case where a party refuses to return the confidential documents? Would this be the same for electronic documents? Alternatively, would there be a possible action in breach of confidence in this situation?
  • Torts (Interference of Goods) Act 1977
  • Breach of confidence

Torts (Interference of Goods) Act 1977

Under the Torts (Interference of Goods) Act 1977 (T(IG)A 1977), an offence is committed when there is a ‘wrongful interference with goods’, examples of which include the conversion of goods, trespass to goods and any other tort which results in damage to goods.

The tort of conversion was codified by T(IG)A 1977, s 2(2) as the taking of another person's goods for one's own use or a failure to return the specific goods on demand.

T(IG)A 1977 defines ‘goods’ broadly as including ‘all chattels personal other than things in action and money’.

Case law gives some guidance as to what may or may not constitute ‘goods’ pursuant to T(IG)A 1977, s 14. For example, in MCC Proceeds Inc v Lehman Bros International (Europe), it was held that shares, being things in action, could not be the subject matter of a claim in the tort of conversion but that share certificates, the pieces of paper, could be.

Case law relating to the interpretation section 4 of the Theft Act 1968 (TA 1968), does not consider confidential informat

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