The Law Around Leaking and Breach of Confidence
As we know, it’s been a month of leaking, blogging and breaching court orders. I thought it would be a good idea to try and answer some general questions around the relevant laws, some of which have got mangled a bit in the reporting. What is a leak in terms of the law? Usually a leak involves a person who works for the government, a private organisation or for another individual publishing information that belongs to their employer and which they only know because of their employment relationship, to someone else who is not entitled to have it. This sort of activity is covered by the law called breach of confidence. This is not a criminal offence, but rather is a civil (or private) claim which one party brings against another. Third parties who receive such information and pass it on even though they know it is confidential, or even if they simply should know it is confidential, may also be breaching confidence. This area of the law is one that often impacts on media, which commonly receives information in unmarked envelopes, anonymous phone calls and so on.