Blogger may face EQC court case costs

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2013

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The blogger who leaked thousands of confidential client details may have to pay the Earthquake Commission its court costs after the High Court found he was in breach of confidence.

In early April, Marc Krieger, a former EQC employee, leaked a confidential spreadsheet detailing client and claim information for 83,000 EQC clients.

He then published that information on a website called EQC truths. EQC brought a civil lawsuit against him for breach of confidence.

In his decision, Justice Collins said he concluded that the information contained in the spreadsheet that Krieger published was confidential.

He said Krieger acknowledged that he received the spreadsheet from a "disgruntled EQC employee" and must have known that he was not authorised to receive it. That employee has never been identified.

Justice Collins said Krieger believed he was acting with a clear conscience when he disclosed the information about the costs of repairing individual claims.

However, he said those affected by EQC's decision who had a "legitimate interest" in knowing how their claims were being assessed by EQC had the option to apply for the information through the Official Information Act.

"It was not for Mr Krieger to take it upon himself to tell the world at large about the details of individual claims."

Justice Collins said the information also had "genuine" commercial interest that needed to be kept confidential to allow EQC to undertake its responsibilities in a "fiscally prudent manner".

Krieger had suggested that the information was in the public interest. Justice Collins said the real public interest was in preserving private information of those dealing with EQC.

"Those who negotiate with or provide information to EQC should be able to do so freely and frankly, unhindered by the prospect that their private information will become publicly available."

Limits on Krieger's freedom of expression only related to the contents of the spreadsheet and would not prevent him expressing opinions about EQC or the Government.

Justice Collins granted a declaration that Krieger's disclosure of the information was a breach of his obligation to keep it confidential.

He also issued a permanent injunction on the information and opened the door for EQC to seek costs against Krieger.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson welcomed the court's decision.

Krieger is living in Switzerland and unavailable for comment.

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- Fairfax Media

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