Australia: Does a company own its CEO's emails?
An international Technology law update from our member in Melbourne, Australia. Many ADVOC firms have expertise in various aspects of international Technology law and international Intellectual Property law. For more information, please visit the Practice Group page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this month, the Technology and Construction Court in London found that a company did not own emails—that is to say, the content of the email messages—of a former Chief Executive.
As a result, the company was denied access to emails regarded as being crucial in the defence by the company of a USD$30 million contract claim against it.
While there were some particular circumstances about this case that resulted in this outcome, the judgment raises some important practical points regarding corporate email accounts. This case suggests that:
some potentially significant risks can arise if senior executives send and receive company emails using private or non-corporate accounts and servers
senior executives should be discouraged from forwarding company emails to private or non-corporate accounts
in the event that such forwarding is to occur, the company should ensure that forwarded emails are not deleted from the company’s servers.
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