Former Nova man is liable

Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014

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A long-serving senior manager of gas retailer Nova Energy has been found liable for the losses Nova incurred after he used confidential information in his next job.

Nova, a subsidiary of Todd Corporation, told the Employment Relations Authority that Michael Mitchell took and used confidential information when he left to head an energy brokerage.

The case attracted attention for imposing a media ban on parts of the hearing at which Nova submitted confidential information.

In a decision yesterday, the ERA said Mitchell had admitted to downloading confidential Nova customer information and using it for his own ends.

His actions were "deliberate and calculated" and he was found liable for damages to Nova because he breached the confidentiality terms in his job agreement, and a statutory duty of good faith.

He was also found liable for the losses Nova incurred in taking steps to mitigate the breaches.

But the authority found the restraint of trade provisions put in Mitchell's exit package were invalid and unenforceable.

Mitchell had not been compensated for the restraints and it appeared Nova knew that he was planning to set up in business, thereby blocking competition.

The authority also rejected Nova's bid to have Mitchell pay special damages of $402,376, based on his exit agreement.

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