Forse v Secarma [2019]

Forse and Others v Secarma Ltd and Others [2019] EWCA Civ 215 addressed an appeal against an interim springboard injunction in the case of Secarma Limited and Secarma Group Limited (Secarma) against Mr Denneny, Mr Rowe, Mr Harris, Xcina Limited, Xcina Consulting Limited, and Shearwater Group PLC. This case is noteworthy for its evaluation of a springboard injunction in the context of alleged conspiracy to injure by unlawful means and emphasises the importance of assessing the strength of the parties' cases.

Secarma, a cybersecurity company, specialised in penetration testing and red teaming. The founders, Mr Denneny and Mr Rowe, continued as employees and directors after selling part of the share capital to UKFast.net Ltd. Xcina, owned by Shearwater Group PLC, offered pen testing services, often outsourcing the work to Secarma.

Allegations arose when numerous employees resigned from Secarma and evidence revealed a coordinated effort to move employees to Xcina. Secarma, along with UKFast.net, filed a claim alleging conspiracy to injure by unlawful means. Simultaneously, they sought an interim springboard injunction, granted by Murray J.

The Court of Appeal reiterated the American Cyanamid requirements for granting an interlocutory injunction and delved into the specifics of a springboard injunction. It emphasised adopting the approach in Lansing Linde, considering the strength of each side's case regarding liability and the duration of any unfair advantage from the springboard.

Relying on WhatsApp conversations, the Court agreed with Murray J that there was a serious question to be tried, strongly supporting the claim of unlawful means conspiracy. It also concurred that damages wouldn't be an adequate remedy due to the difficulty in accurately calculating losses caused by the alleged unlawful advantage.

Regarding the balance of convenience, the Court addressed arguments against the legitimacy of the interim injunction. It dismissed the notion that the move to Xcina could not be undone, asserting that the purpose of the injunction is to freeze relevant business activities until trial. However, the Court found the scope of the injunction too wide, particularly in restricting certain activities of the corporate appellants, Mr Forse, and Mr Child.

This judgment serves as a reminder of applicable principles for interim springboard injunctions, highlighting the need to assess the strength of each party's case. It clarifies the scope of such injunctions and underscores the delicate balance in preserving the status quo while preventing undue punishment to the defendant.
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