New Rules for “Trade Secrets” – a Damp Squib?


Britain only has until 9th June 2018 to implement the EU Trade Secrets Directive which has key implications for the business use of confidential information.

The directive, which itself came into force in 2016, establishes clear guidance as to what will amount to a trade secret, its disclosure and remedies for non-compliance.

Earlier this week, the Government commenced a consultation on the final form of the implementing legislation. But with Brexit looming, it remains unclear how the directive will look in the UK once it has been implemented.

The chances are, whatever form it takes, the rules will fall short of offering wholesale amendments to the current domestic regime. Much of the law on trade secrets in the UK already exists in a similar form so the legislation stands, at best, to be more of a tidying up exercise.

Many commercial organisations have discovered to their cost the many limitations of relying on established law and statute to protect their secret, or confidential, information. Since information can be one of the most valuable assets a business might have, the preferred option must be an entry into a formal confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. This offers much more protection than might otherwise be available and can be put in place relatively quickly.

Although there is no guarantee that having such an agreement in place will prevent a breach, it would be enforceable and recognised by the courts.  

If your business shares or discloses information of any type with external parties, you would be well advised to review whether you have any such agreement in place, and if so, whether it offers you sufficient protection. If not, our commercial and corporate department is skilled in drafting and advising on confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements as well as putting appropriate documentation in place if none exist.

Click here for further information and updates in relation to the Government consultation on the trade secrets directive.


For further legal information relating to the new rules on trade secrets in the UK, please contact our Corporate Law Department – call us or email by using the form to the right.This article was written by Edward Garston, a company commercial solicitor at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of February 2018.


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