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Return of company documents and files

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I was recently dismissed by my company from a senior position. I am taking the company to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal and am also looking into civil court proceedings. The relationship with my former employer had been problematic for several months and I made sure when I was still in my job that I kept copies of all important documents and emails in case I should need them.


My ex-employer has now written to me requiring me to return all hard copies and digital copies of all company documents and emails to them and want me to sign a statement confirming I have deleted all files from my personal computer. In other words they want to leave me in a position where I have no documentation whatsoever related to my case against them for unfair dismissal and also no documentation I can use in future against them to highlight their appalling conduct (should I need to). Can they do this? My employer also sent me a great deal of documentation themselves relating to my dismissal which is now in the hands of my solicitor. I have no clauses in my contract related to returning company property or restrictive clauses related to termination of employment. They are fully aware I have lots of docs at home as I used to work from home a lot on my personal computer and there were no restrictions regarding this in my employment contract.


I am no longer in the paid employment of the company.


Any advice would be much appreciated.

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It depends on what documents you have. Since you have a solicitor the best and obvious thing to do is consult your legal advisor. Retaining documents may be a form of theft (although unless they are related to the business, they would probably striggle to do anything about it) - but if you disclose what you have to the solicitor along with the letter from the company then they should be able to determine the legitimacy of your possession of the documents and any legal risk you take in retaining them.


I am a barrister specialising in employment law, and only represent employees. My advice on employment issues is advice - not legal opinion - and is based only on the facts you provide. If you want an accurate assessment of your case and prospects, you should get legal opinion from a lawyer - not a public forum. Anything I tell you is for guidance only, and is based on my experience of the law in the context of what details you provide.


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Hello and thank you for joining the forum. I wouldn't wish to argue with SarEl's advice at all. Please come back to us as your case progresses. Obviously you need evidence and if you've been badly treated you should fight if your solicitors advise it.


My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum




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Thanks for your advice. I'll talk to my solicitor tomorrow. It's great to find this forum. I've had months of hell dealing with my former employer, before and after I was dismissed. I'm determined to get justice of some kind! I'll keep you updated

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