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Lewis Silkin secures injunction against former Nissan GC with High Court ruling confidential documents were retained in breach of contract

10 February 2022

Judge Andrew Keyser (High Court Chancery Division) has ruled that the former global general counsel of Nissan (Ravinder Passi) must return or destroy confidential documents owned by the automotive giant.

Mr Passi was employed by Nissan from 2004 to 2020 and, following the termination of his employment with the company, was required under the terms of his contract to return all company property. However, Mr Passi retained access to certain confidential documents and materials, including privileged legal advice obtained as a result of his former position.  
In his ruling, Judge Andrew Keyser ruled that Nissan’s case was extremely strong and that Mr Passi had “barely a case, if any, for asserting an entitlement [to] possession of the documents or any copies of them” even in circumstances where Mr Passi alleges he retained documents for the purposes of taking legal advice and advancing his ongoing Employment Tribunal case. 
Lewis Silkin partner Toni Lorenzo acted for Nissan with Alistair Hayes. The firm instructed Thomas Croxford QC of Blackstone Chambers.

Ravinder Passi instructed Temple Bright and Daniel Tatton Brown QC of Littleton Chambers. 
Toni Lorenzo, partner at law firm Lewis Silkin, commented:
This is an important decision, providing helpful guidance regarding what information can be retained by an employee once an employment contract ends and, critically, whether or not those documents – particularly those which are confidential and commercially sensitive – can be passed to a legal representative for the purposes of taking legal advice and advancing an Employment Tribunal case. If the information contained in documents is required in the context of an Employment Tribunal case, then the ex-employee must apply to obtain them through the appropriate legal disclosure process. Lawyers, and their clients, should not assume that legal privilege protects against the unlawful removal and retention of confidential information. The decision is also useful guidance as to what the court considers the scope of subsequent use of documents to mean in the context of a document being “read to or by the court, or referred to, at a hearing which has been held in public”.
The Employment Tribunal case continues.

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Toni Lorenzo and Alistair Hayes provide practical observations on the High Court's decision in Nissan Motor’s case for the Solicitors Journal

01 April 2022

Background: Ravinder Passi was previously employed as Nissan’s Global General Counsel based in Japan. His employment was terminated in November 2020. Mr Passi brought two Employment Tribunal claims, including allegations of whistleblowing, detriment and victimisation (one during – and one following the end of – his employment). On providing his disclosure in connection with these claims, Nissan realised Mr Passi had removed and retained hundreds of highly confidential and privileged documents.

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