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Imagine an employee whose contract requires to return all copies of employer's information back to employer once employment is over. But that employee is going to take the former employer into Employment Tribunal and for this needs to keep copies of some emails as vital evidence? Is this legal? Or does it mean that employee will be in breach of his/her contract?

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Is this legal?

Yes

Or does it mean that employee will be in breach of his/her contract?

Yes

You are assuming that if the evidence is allowed to be presented then that automatically means that keeping it for that purpose is not a breach of the contract. This is not necessarily so; it can be both at the same time.

That said, it is unlikely that an employer would attempt to sanction an employee for this as the courts would (rightly) see it as an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

As in most things in the law it is possible for all parties in a matter to be on the wrong side of it.

If you want to come to the tribunal with "clean hands" then the best thing to do is make a record (not a copy) of the relevant documents and return then to the employer. Before going to the tribunal get your solicitor to subpoena the documents that you want - they will have to produce them and you have them without breaking your contract.

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  • Maybe not practical here, but would it not (in principle) make sense to give the information to a [your] lawyer - presumably as they have a duty to the crown they should be entrusted by the court to look after it. – davidgo Sep 5 '16 at 6:38
  • @davidgo I have had some thoughts on this: I will edit my answer – Dale M Sep 5 '16 at 6:54

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