Kerry Group concerned employee emailed recipe details off-site

Injunctions to continue against man amid ‘strong evidence’ he removed information

Kerry Group secured orders against Pedro Oliveira, a senior research development and applications manager, after it said it had “strong evidence” he had removed confidential information. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Kerry Group secured orders against Pedro Oliveira, a senior research development and applications manager, after it said it had “strong evidence” he had removed confidential information. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Interim injunctions against a Kerry Group employee, whom the company fears had removed confidential information about its brewing ingredients business, are to continue for a week following an agreement between the parties, the High Court 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 on Wednesday, Ms Justice Caroline Costello was told by Oisín Quinn SC, for Kerry, there had been talks between the sides and it was agreed the interim orders would continue for a week. The agreement included the defendant would continue to be restrained from divulging the information to third parties and the firm EY would carry out an independent analysis of the data concerned.

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

Last week, the court was told by Mr Quinn that Mr Oliveira, of Sallins Pier, Sallins, Co Kildare, had resigned on June 25th but, because his resignation does not take effect until July 22nd, he remains an employee of the group.

Mr Quinn said the company believes Mr Oliveira acted in breach of restrictive covenants in his contract of employment. He had come into the company premises on June 23rd 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 was “strong evidence” he removed confidential information and was in discussions with a German competitor, counsel said.

Gardening leave

Mr Oliveira was a reasonably senior research development and applications manager and technologist who resigned on June 25th 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 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 very 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.