Confidentiality Agreement

In many commercial contracts the parties disclose, either unilaterally or bilaterally, information which will be used to carry out the joint project between them. This information is usually highly sensitive and/or valuable to the disclosing party, which has a vested interest in keeping it secret. 

Whatever the nature of the information may be, the disclosing party wants to be sure that it is only used for the specific purpose for which it is disclosed. In order to protect this information, the disclosing party will usually want to enter into what is usually referred to as a “confidentiality agreement”. The provisions of a confidentiality agreement tend to follow a standard format and use the standard language found in most contracts. 

The first item that most agreements will usually contain is a definition of the said confidential information. In the absence of a specific definition, the common law of torts has defined confidential information as having to have the necessary quality of confidence about it, the information must have been imparted in circumstances importing and obligation of confidence and there must an unauthorized use of that information ot the detriment of the party communicating it. The necessary quality of confidence was defined in the case of Thomas Marshall (Exports) v. Guinle as first the information must be information the release of which the owner believe would be injurious to them or of advantage to their rivals or others and second, the owner must believe that the information is confidential or secret, i.e., that it is no already in the public domain. Further, the owners belief under the first two heads must be reasonable and finally the information must be judged in the light of the usage and practices of the particular industry or trade concerned. 

The statutory limits of this can be expanded or limited further by the contract itself and it is rare that a confidential agreement will limit itself to the tort definition of confidentiality. Common definitions can be universal, such as “Confidential Information is any information provided to Receiving Party by Disclosing Party including without limitation….”, or illustrative such as “any compilations of information, date, materials, and software, and any copyrightable materials.”

Sometimes confidentiality contracts will require the disclosing party to specifically mark the confidential information as such to make it clear to all what the contract is intended to cover. However, others may specifically require that the information be clearly marked so as to avoid any debate or confusion at a later date. Further provisions may outline the specifics of disclosing the said information. For example, does the information have to be disclosed in writing or electronically, and does it cover off the cuff comments made by agents or workers of one or more of the parties.

Finally, there are some exclusions which can never form confidential information for the purpose of any contract. Information that was part of the public domination, was in the possession of the receiving party prior to contracting with the disclosing party, was obtained by a third part or was pndependalty developed by the receiving party (not relying on other confidential information) will never form a part of these agreements. 

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Arkadiusz J. Empel urodził się w Katowicah. Jako dziecko emigrował do Kanady, razem z rodziną, lecz wrócił jako student aby ukończyć Pracę Magisterską w Krakowie. Przez swoją pracę z polonią w okolicy Toronto utrzymał władność w swojim języku ojczystym. Jeżeli Państwo życzy się skonsultować prosto z adwokatem Polski, proszę przedzwonić na numer 416-500-1937.