Orders against departing Kerry Group worker continue

Interim injunctions against a Kerry Group employee — who the company says has removed confidential information about its brewing ingredients business — are to continue for a week following an agreement between the parties, the High Court has heard.

The group last week secured orders against Pedro Oliveira, a senior research development and applications manager at Kerry, after it said it had “strong evidence” he had removed the information and is in discussions with a rival firm.

When the case returned before the court this week, Ms Justice Caroline Costello was told by Oisin Quinn SC, for Kerry Group, that there had been talks between the sides and it was agreed the interim orders would continue for a week.

The agreement included that the defendant would continue to be restrained from divulging the information to third parties and that Ernst & Young would carry out an independent analysis of the data concerned.

Ms Justice Costello said, on the basis of mutual undertakings between the parties, the interim orders would continue for a week until the case returns to court.

Last week, the court heard Mr Oliveira, of Sallins Pier, Sallins, Co Kildare, had resigned on June 25 last but, because his resignation does not take effect until July 22 and he remains an employee of the group.

Mr Quinn said the Group believes Mr Oliveira has acted in breach of restrictive covenants in his contract of employment.

He had come into the company premises on June 23 last with a suitcase and backpack and there is concern property of the company may have been taken, counsel said. A filing cabinet had been emptied.

There is “strong evidence” he has removed confidential information and is in discussions with a German competitor, counsel said.

Mr Oliveira was a reasonably senior research development and applications manager and technologist who resigned on June 25 and was put on gardening leave arising from concerns about emails sent off site, he said.

A day after he had said he was resigning, 295 emails were forwarded to personal email addresses, counsel said.

Mr Oliveira had said that was for “back up” and that the information was not confidential, counsel said.

The back-up explanation did not make sense when the plaintiff has its own sophisticated back up system, Mr Quinn said.

An analysis of Mr Oliveira’s laptop carried out for the company also showed, of the 295 emails, 100 were responsive to criteria for containing confidential information and there was additional concern about earlier emails.

The company was concerned that market sensitive confidential information, including in relation to recipes for components of beverages, had been mailed off site contrary to its confidential email policy, counsel said.

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