A breach of confidentiality is when data or private information is disclosed to a third party without the data owner’s consent. Whether an intentional breach, accidental error or theft, the data owner is entitled to take legal action for potential losses or damage that comes as a result of the breach of confidentiality.

In many professions, protecting confidential information is essential for maintaining trust and ongoing business with your clients. This stands for large corporations, small businesses and freelancers. Failure to do so can result in court cases, terminated contracts and even the collapse of the business.


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Examples of confidentiality breaches

An example of a breach of confidentiality could be if a freelancer works for a number of clients in the same industry and accidentally emails confidential business information to the wrong client. Another example is if there is sensitive information on a laptop and the laptop is stolen.

Breaches of confidentiality cost businesses millions of pounds every year, and it isn’t only larger companies that need to be aware of them. Smaller businesses and even freelancers can fall foul of breach of confidentiality claims. If one occurs, it can destroy business relationships and put the reputation of your business on the line.

Preventing a breach

To avoid a breach of confidentiality in the workplace, many experts in the field may suggest it’s essential that everyone in the business has the correct training on security processes, has signed an employee non-disclosure agreement, implements secure passwords and encrypts sensitive data.

For business owners and employees alike, understanding what constitutes a breach of confidentiality is part of your professional responsibility. If you want to find out more information on how confidentiality in the workplace can be protected – and how it can be infringed upon, see our guide:

The importance of confidentiality in the workplace

Despite your best efforts, if a data breach occurs, you should contact your legal representative for advice on how to proceed. Professional indemnity insurance can help to cover the cost of legal fees and compensation payouts, to protect your business financially while the breach is rectified. 

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