This case, OCS Group UK Limited v Dadi & Ors, is about what happens when an individual breaches an interim injunction.
In a relatively rare situation for employment lawyers, the Defendant Mr Dadi, was sent to prison, for contempt of Court when he breached prohibitions imposed on him by a Court Order.
By way of background, the Claimant, OCS Group, is in the business of providing aircraft cleaning. They lost a contract for providing services to British Airways at Heathrow to Omni Serve and as a result, Mr Dadi’s employment transferred from OCS Group to Omni Serv by way of a TUPE transfer. One of the other Defendants, Mr Ahitan, was Mr Dadi’s former boss at OCS and they had developed a close relationship.
In an earlier hearing, the Claimant was granted an interim injunction against Mr Dadi by a Court Order dated 27 February 2017. The Order:
Mr Dadi was served with a copy of the Order by the Claimant’s in-house Counsel on the afternoon of 27 February 2017. At that point he was strongly encouraged to get independent legal advice urgently.
What did Mr Dadi do?
Mr Dadi subsequently undertook the following acts, all of which were in breach of the Order (which he subsequently confirmed that he had done in his witness statement):
Mr Dadi said that he had done these things because Mr Ahitan had asked him to do them and he had known him and trusted him for 18 years. Mr Dadi confirmed that he didn’t receive any financial benefit for providing the information.
Three days later Mr Dadi took legal advice and realised the error of his ways. Mr Dadi threw himself at the mercy of the Court, and sought to assist the Claimant in every single way, including co-operating with their solicitors by handing over his computer and giving authority to try and recover the deleted emails (although this was unlikely to be possible because of the delay following their deletion). Mr Dadi sought a character reference from his cousin’s husband, submitted evidence about his mother’s health, his own health and the detrimental impact that a custodial sentence would have on his reputation within the Sikh community.
The Court said that the object of the penalty is both to punish an individual’s conduct in defiance of the Court Order and to hold out the threat of future punishment.
In these situations the Court can take the following points into account:
In considering the Defendant’s sentence, the Judge said that “the system will not work if people think that they can ignore Court Orders and destroy evidence".
The Defendant was given a sentence of six weeks imprisonment to mark the Court's strong disapproval of his contact and as a deterrence both in respect of his further compliance with Court Orders and as a warning to others.
The lesson here is that potential breach of interim injunctions should be taken seriously!