According to commercial law firm EMW,claims relating to the theft of confidential information has more than doubled, jumping from 23 cases reaching the High Court in 2008 to 95 in 2009

It seems that redundancies and the fall in bonuses during the recession has provoked disgruntled employees to steal from their employers valuable data, such as client lists, in order to set up their own rival businesses or facilitate their move to other employers, says the firm.

A recent high-profile case involved Foxtons, the property agent, which recently launched a multi-million pound claim against a departing senior director who allegedly took information on 2,500 clients when he left to set up a new company.

Mark Finn, Principal at EMW said: “Modern technology has made data theft incredibly easy, and for many employees who have seen their incomes dramatically fall during the recession the temptation to jump ship with their employers’ client list can be very difficult to resist.”

He added that the problem was especially acute in sales-led environments, such as recruitment or property agencies, where there are few barriers to entry for setting up a new firm. He said employers needed to exercise vigilance.

“It needs to be made absolutely clear to employees when they join, what information is confidential and belongs to the employer and what does not. Employers should also be emphatic in saying that they will take action against employees who steal valuable data,” said Finn.