The partner who revealed J.K Rowling as the author behind The Cuckoos Calling has been fined £1000, and issued with a written rebuke by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Christopher Gossage, a partner at Russells Solicitors in London, divulged in a private conversation with his wifes best friend that Rowling had written the novel using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Gossages firm stated when fictional Galbraiths identity was exposed by Gossage in July within a personal discussion, and that the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly.
Taking legal action
Following initial legal action by Rowling in July, the SRA ruled on 26th November that by disclosing confidential information about a client to a third party Mr Gossage had breached various principles of its code of conduct. These included a failure to act in the best interests of each client, and his duty to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and the provision of legal services.
Rowling took legal action against Gossage and his friend Judith Callegari, whose Twitter exchange with journalist India Knight and subsequent revelation in The Sunday Times had brought Galbraith to the publics attention.
In a statement at the time, Rowling said:
I feel very sad and angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced…to say that I am disappointed is an understatement.
The importance of trust in a business partnership
When setting up any form of partnership it is important to establish a level of trust with your partner, and to have a plan in place if things do go wrong. This will ensure you are protected against the worst case scenario, and you can rest assured that your assets are not put at risk because of the behaviour of others.
J.K Rowling was able to take legal action against her solicitor because there had been a severe breach of trust and privacy. In a business partnership you would be able to take similar action against your partner if such an act were stipulated in your partnership agreement as there is an implied duty of good faith between partners. The agreement allows you to create a bespoke contract to suit your partnership, you can therefore include instances such as a breach of trust that has had a severe effect on your business as a reason to dissolve your partnership.