If in the English jurisdiction a lawyer instructed by another party sends you a letter marked "not for publication", are you committing a tort or other wrong if you publish it without their consent? Please assume it contains no creative, artistic or otherwise commercially valuable content, and that publication does not put anybody at physical risk.

For example the letter might say something such as "we deny the allegation made about us in the media but we are telling you off the record and we do not wish you to publish or publicise our denial".


The equitable action is called "Breach of Confidence".

It's also a copyright violation if you make a copy to do it - the threshold for making a literary work is not as high as you think.

  • Thanks for this. I've now looked up breach of confidence and there has to be at least a risk of damage. Have you got a link for what you say about copyright?
    – user11566
    Nov 2 '17 at 23:11
  • Start with Wikipedia
    – Dale M
    Nov 3 '17 at 1:01
  • According to that link, it's required that "The information was provided in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence". It's not clear to me that this would apply if an opposing lawyer decides to just tell you something he's not obligated to tell you.
    – D M
    Dec 3 '17 at 0:13
  • Breach of confidence is not a tort in England. It is an equitable cause of action.
    – sjy
    Dec 3 '17 at 5:46

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