How to Break a Non-Disclosure Agreement?
Agreement & Contract

How to Break a Non-Disclosure Agreement?

A Non-Disclosure Agreement ("NDA") is a legally enforceable agreement that falls under the ambit of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, which serves as the umbrella legislation for all contracts and agreements. This agreement protects and maintains the confidentiality of vital information disclosed between the parties, including trade secrets.

NDAs are also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary information agreement (PIA), secrecy agreement (SA), or non-disparagement agreement.

NDA protects a company's trade secrets or confidential information from being exposed to competitors or unauthorized parties who could use the information to damage the disclosing party irreparably. The disclosing party who shares confidential information with the receiving party agrees on what is considered confidential and not when they sign the agreement.

NDAs maintain the secrecy of information shared between the two parties and overall protect the business's intellectual property. The first step of the negotiations frequently presupposes the disclosure of various types of information. This necessitates that the parties remain bound by the NDA and do not violate it, as it may result in legal consequences.

What happens if you break a non-disclosure agreement?

An NDA violation is a civil wrong. NDAs are legally binding agreements. When the parties sign a NDA, the receiving party must keep the confidential information secret. However, if the receiving party chooses to disclose confidential information to a third party or an unauthorized entity, the party will face legal consequences or penalties.

NDAs not only bind the parties to keep confidential information private, but they also include legal remedies and penalties for any breach of the agreement, such as injunctions, indemnification etc. Breach of NDAs can result in significant monetary penalties, in addition to injuntive remedies.  One should read a NDA very carefully before signing the same.

Why you should not violate a non-disclosure agreement?

NDAs deter persons from disclosing sensitive information to third parties or the general public, and severe penalties accompany them. In many circumstances, the agreement will specify the consequences of breaking the NDA. The following are some instances of penalties for violating an NDA: injunction, indemnity, damages, termination from employment, loss of business reputation, clients, etc.

A NDA would typically contain language that would entitle the Disclosing Party to resort to any legal remedies it deems fit. Such wide language in itself should sound a warning bell to the Receiving Party. It is better to comply with confidentiality obligations than breach a NDA.

Non-Disclosure Penalty Clause

It can be difficult to estimate the damages resulting from a breach of the confidentiality clause, as a result, a penalty clause that provides an appropriate value for the damage resulting from a contractual non-fulfilment may be beneficial. There is an added advantage of this clause if the penalty is already specified in the agreement, then there will be a fear of having to pay heavy damages, which would not exist if the party planned to strictly comply with the contractual obligations.

The penalties for violating the agreement are often laid out in the agreement, including injunction, indemnity, and damages. It is essential to mention that the Specific Relief Act of 1963 and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 govern these preventive reliefs.

People Also Read This: Employee Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement for Employees

Injunction

The non-breaching party may seek an injunction from the court to prevent the Receiving Party from sharing such confidential information. The purpose of applying for an interim or permanent injunction is to prevent the defendant (that is the Receiving Party) from committing any future breaches or causing any other form of harm to the aggrieved party (the Disclosing Party).

Indemnity

The Receiving Party must indemnify the Disclosing Party for any fees, expenses, or damages incurred by the Disclosing Party due to any breach of this Agreement's provisions. Court fees, litigation costs, and actual, reasonable attorney's fees are all included in this obligation.

People Also Read This: What Is A Non-Compete Clause In An Employment Contract?

Damages

If the Receiving party violates an NDA, the Disclosing Party may file a lawsuit in court to prohibit additional disclosures and sue the violating party for monetary damages.

To conclude, NDAs are low-cost, simple-to-create legally binding agreements that keep private information secret between two or more parties. It is critical to be as specific as possible when drafting an NDA so that all parties understand what can and cannot be disclosed and the penalties for disclosing information. An agreement can be void if the language is overly broad, unreasonable, or onerous. The courts will also challenge or invalidate agreements that are unduly broad, oppressive, or attempt to contain non-confidential information. Also, if the information is made public, the Disclosing Party cannot enforce a NDA.

Always have a lawyer review an NDA before you sign the same. Look out for onerous terms and be very careful before putting your name to it.

Partition Of Property Under Hindu Law
Property

Partition Of Property Under Hindu Law

Partition is the process of division of property. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 ("Act") regulates the partition of property under Hindu Law. 

There are two types of partitions under the Hindu Succession Act. 

  1. Self-Acquired Property 

  2. Ancestral Property 

Property obtained by someone in their lifetime and not inherited from their ancestors is Self-Acquired Property. On the other hand, Ancestral property is property inherited from one's forefathers. Further, Succession itself is of two types: Testamentary Succession and Intestate Succession. 

  1. Types of Succession

As noted, Succession can either be Testamentary or Intestate. Testamentary Succession occurs if there is a will. As long as the will is valid and enforceable, the will has to be executed, and the inheritance provisions do not apply. Part VI of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, further elaborates on provisions related to wills. The will should be clear, reduced to writing, signed by the testator and two independent witnesses. 

By contract, Intestate Succession is primarily covered by the laws of inheritance. For Hindus, these are governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. 

  1. Rules of Succession under Hindu Law

Succession itself depends on whether the property is a self-acquired property or an intestate property.

  1. Succession of Self-Acquired Property

Self-acquired property is also known as coparcenary property. Individuals only have an "interest" in such property, and they receive a share in the property if they have an interest in it. Thus, the "devolution of interest" is an important concept.

People Also Read This: Supreme Court Judgments On Ancestral Property

Section 6 of the Act comprehensively discusses the devolution of interest in cases of the death of a Hindu male. The property will devolve to all coparceners within the dictates of Mitakshara law. However, the Act is progressive and has included women and female heirs within the coparcenary. 

  1. The succession of Ancestral Property

The rules of property division are given under Chapter II of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

A Hindu male's basic rules of Succession are codified under Sections 8 and 9 of the Act. Under these provisions, the order of Succession is as follows:

Relatives specified in Class 1 > Relatives specified in Class 2 > Agnates of the deceased > Cognates of the deceased. 

The Succession is exclusive. This means that if there are any Class 1 heirs, they will all receive a share in property and exclude heirs from other categories. If there is no class 1 heir, then all members of Class II will exclusively receive an a of the property, and so on. This is the order of Succession clarified in Section 9 of the Act. 

The list of relatives under Class I & II are mentioned under the Schedule to the Act. Class I heirs primarily include the son, daughter, mother, etc. – Usually, the deceased's closest relatives. Class II heirs are more distant but somewhat related: they include the father, son's daughter's son, son's daughter's daughter, and so on. Sections 10 and 11 state the rules of Succession for Class I and II heirs.

The property of an intestate shall be divided among the heirs in class I of the schedule by the following rules- 

Rule 1: The intestate of window (s) shall take one share each. 

Rule 2: The surviving sons and daughters and the mother shall take one share each

Rule 3: The heir in the branch of each pre-deceased son or daughter shall take one share between them. 

This is also applicable to Class-II heirs.

People Also Read This: How to Inherit Property in India?

Finally, property devolves to cognates and agnates. A cognate is any blood relative from the mother's side, while an agnate is any blood relative from the father's side. While both Class I and II heirs receive equal shares, Section 12 of the Act mentions the hierarchy in Succession among the cognates and agnates. 

For females, similar rules are followed. These can be found under Sections 15 and 16 of the Hindu Succession Act.

Employee Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement for Employees
Agreement & Contract

Employee Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement for Employees

Confidentiality is a crucial aspect of any business. It is necessary to protect trade secrets, intellectual property, etc. Thus, businesses put a premium on the secrecy of information- this is especially true of information that can adversely affect business. At the time of employment, companies sign separate agreements about the non-disclosure of information or include a confidentiality clause in their employment contract. Some corporates even maintain a confidentiality agreement policy to standardize practices. 

Employee Confidentiality Agreement

The most common way that companies ensure confidentiality is by signing separate confidentiality agreements with the employee. These agreements are known as as non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”). Typically, NDAs forbid the employee from using the company's confidential information for personal gain or the benefit of any third party. 

NDAs also need to contain several other details:

  • Clearly define what kind of information is ‘confidential and how such information is to be kept confidential. Frequent ways are to mandate a period for the return of such documents or the destruction of such information. 

  • State the time period for which the obligations of the NDA will be active. This typically exceeds the validity of the NDA.

  • Exceptions to the NDA. Particular circumstances may require disclosure of information, such as disclosure to a governmental authority. If these are applicable, they must be clearly stated in the NDA.

  • The penalties for breaching the NDA and the forum in which legal action can be taken for breach of confidentiality. This can include either a court or an arbitrator. It is useful to which Court would have jurisdiction, if applicable.

Non-Disclosure Agreement for Employees in India

In India, NDAs are governed by the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Even though the Indian Contract Act does not explicitly name NDAs, they may generally be regulated by Section 27. Section 27 states that agreements in restraint of trade are void.

However, the judiciary has generally tended to uphold the validity of NDAs. In VFS Global Services Private Limited vs. Suprit Roy, the Bombay High Court held that confidentiality clauses were not generally a restraint of trade under Section 27 of the Indian Contracts Act. However, they would be considered invalid if they remained operational beyond the period of the initial agreement itself. This distinction began from Niranjan Shankar Golikari vs. Century Spinning and Manufacturing Company Limited, where the Supreme Court held that negative covenants that operated during the period of employment were not violative of Section 27. Still, if they were in operation even after the termination of the employment, then they would be void. Thus, the Court in VFS Global Services stated that since the Garden Clause was a negative restriction (maintaining confidentiality) operational after the discharge of the initial agreement, it was violative of Article 27.

Employees Confidentiality Agreement Policy

To ensure that employees are aware of their obligations, companies may consider creating a written policy to ensure that employees know the limits of the information they are allowed to disclose. Creating such a standardized policy is helpful since it mentions all the duties and obligations of every employee and allows for convenient referencing. Usually, the NDA that the company signs with the employee are likely to contain provisions of the Confidentiality Policy. Even though there is no substantial difference concerning contents, companies should  have an operational confidentiality policy.

People Also Read This: Legal Remedies for Termination of Contracts

Employment Agreement Confidentiality Clause

While many companies sign detailed NDAs with employees, others prefer to include confidentiality clauses within the main employment contract. There is not much significant difference between these, except that the NDA will contain more detailed clauses and provisions. Nevertheless, the choice of which to prefer depends on a case-to-case basis.

There may also be concerns about the enforcement of confidentiality clauses in India. We have already highlighted how negative covenants cannot survive outside the master agreement. However, the cases of Hi-Tech Systems & Services Ltd. v/s. Suprabhat Ray and Ors. and Fairfest Media Ltd. v/s. ITE Group Plc hold otherwise. In these cases, secrecy clauses operated two to three years beyond the original employer agreement and the Court did not invalidate these. Thus, there is doubt over whether confidentiality clauses are valid after the lifetime of the master agreement or not. As a result, it may be a better option to opt for confidentiality agreements over clauses.

People Also Read This: Decoding a Fixed Term Employment Contract

Confidentiality or secret clauses are legal as long as the information they seek to protect can be reasonably considered ‘secret’. While there is no authoritative judgement outlining what is reasonable, High Court judgements are illustrative. In Hi-Tech Systems & Services Ltd. v/s. Suprabhat Ray and Ors., the Calcutta High Court said confidential information could include “the customer list of a trader…information [that] would be potentially damaging if a competitor obtained such information…cost and pricing, projected capital investments, inventory marketing strategies and customer’s lists.” Most confidentiality clauses cover similar information, so there are unlikely to be major legal issues on this front.

How to Check Property Details Online in India?
Property

How to Check Property Details Online in India?

Checking the property details can be a very tedious job. However, you should always ensure that the person from whom you buy or rent property is the rightful owner. Now, one can check property details online as well. Let us see how!

1)  How to check if property is legal or not online?

Every state in India has an Online Registration Information System. It is a government portal where all the information about property is available. One can check the status of the property by going on the official website of the State-specific Online Registration Information System. It is a government portal where all the information about the property is available. For example: Property Details of Maharashtra and Delhi can be found on “IGR Marahstra” (https://igrmaharashtra.gov.in/) and “Delhi Online Registration Information System” (“DORIS”) (https://doris.delhigovt.nic.in/) repectively.

Next step is to go to the E-search option available on the webpage. For example, in DORIS, it is the first option from the left. After clicking on E-Search, a new window will open where one can find different options to search the property's details. One can search and verify the correctness of the property details through “Name or Property Address”. If the owner and property details are genuine, one can say that it is a legal property. One will also have to verify various property documents to ensure the property complies with the laws of state/centre.

2)  How to check property ownership online in india?

Every state has a separate website for property detail. To check for the land ownership, one needs to visit the official website of the same. Land records of the concerned states will be available on their respective official website. For example, In order to check the land records of Maharashtra, one will have to visit https://bhulekh.mahabhumi.gov.in/. Though the contents are in Marathi, you will get an option to translate the web page to english on the upper right hand corner. For Delhi the official website is https://dlrc.delhigovt.nic.in/Index.aspx. Most important thing to note here is, the interface for every website will be different. For example: After going on the official website of Maharashtra one will see a Map. One can either put the details manually to search or click their respective district on the map which will then direct the user to the records of the particular district.

People Also Read This: Land & Property Registration: All You Need To Know

3)  How to verify property documents?

Property Verification is perhaps the most important part while purchasing a property. Due Dilligence of documents is of utmost importance as it gives a clear idea about whether the property is legal or not. Whether the property title is clear helps us check whether the property has some loan which is due, etc.

Nowadays, various legal service providers can verify documents online. One can also visit property lawyers in the district court who can verify the documents for the clients.

Below-mentioned documents are required for verification

  1. Sale Deed

  2. Power of Attorney

  3. Property Title

  4. Agreement to sale

  5. Encumbrance Certificate, to ensure there is no mortgage or lien on the property.

  6. Any other document like Partition deed or Will depending upon the context.

4)  Legal and Technical Verification of Property: 

Legal and Technical Verification are a rather safer way to verify a property. Whenever a lender goes to the bank to take Property Loan. Banks (Housing Finance Bank or Non-Banking Financial Companies) will scrutinise the documents for the lender before approving a loan. The Legal Team of the Bank does the documentation in-house. This ensures that lenders are not getting involved in a dubious and fraud transaction and it also helps banks while giving out loans based on the genuineness of the documents.

People Also Read This: Buying a House? Have You done your Legal Checks?

Technical Valuation team carries out Technical Verification of Property. Prior to granting a loan to a lender, the Valuation team physically examines the commercial capability of the property. They Physically examine the property, the condition of the property, value for which the property could be sold, the market rate and the area where the property is situated. This is done to ensure that the bank is able to recover the loan, by selling off the property in an open market, in case there is a default by the lender. For example: If the property is worth Rs. 50 Lakh in the open market, the Bank will be willing to give a loan to the lender for around Rs. 50 Lakhs only. Thus even though the lender fails to repay the loan, the Bank can sell off the property to recover the money. In such a case the Bank won’t fund 70-80 Lakhs for the same piece as it will be next to impossible for them to recover that money.

You should always before buying property check the title and other information regarding the property. With all states now having their own websites and facilities to check property details online, it is easier to assess the ownership of the property.

Memorandum of Understanding for For Mutual Divorce
Divorce

Memorandum of Understanding for For Mutual Divorce

MoU for Mutual Divorce

What is MoU?

A memorandum of understanding contains the loose understanding between the parties to an agreement.

Parties may begin their negotiations based upon an MoU. A memorandum of understanding is less formal than a contract but legally valid. A memorandum of understanding may sound similar to a contract, but the two are not the same. A contract, for example, is a private written agreement that is legally binding and enforceable by a judge, unlike an MOU.

An MOU is a formal agreement; it is generally not legally binding. Instead, the MOU is used to show that each side is willing to do everything it takes to advance a contract ahead. A memorandum of understanding defines the objective and scope of negotiations. In other words, the MOU serves as a starting point for discussions.

Divorce MoU Template

The "MOU" in a Mutual Divorce enables parties to settle out of court. It is only then that the parties enter the courtroom to obtain the decree for divorce on mutually accepted grounds, of which the "MOU" is created first and then the "Separation Agreement."

It eliminates the possibility of further litigation and finalizes the divorce based upon mutual understanding. During the separation, the "MOU" is the document to rely on. The MoU lays down the boundaries of the division of assets among the couple. It restricts the rights and liabilities, assets and debts, and other numerous claims that one can have against another. The MoU also addresses the principal claims for maintenance and alimony. It contains all the terms that may become contentious later on and concretizes them in writing.

People Also Read: What Rights Does a Women Have in her Husband's Property?

MoU for Divorce by Mutual Consent

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement signed between husband and wife when they divorce mutually. It outlines the terms for mutual divorce. The couple can then submit this before the court. This type of document also explains the goal of a particular course of action.

It pledges the understanding to write, making it legally obligatory to enforce the agreement. One may sue the other party for violation of such a contract. The distribution of assets and liabilities must be clearly stated in "MOU". An "MOU" like this also protects the husband's interests against fraudulent charges of Domestic Violence and 498A cases after the divorce.

It serves as a complete and final settlement, after which no further permission of lawsuit regarding the breakup of the marriage is given to the Husband and Wife. However, if either of the two parties breaches the terms of the "Separation Agreement," the aggrieved party has the legal right to sue the person responsible for the violation and force particular performance by the MOU signed.

People Also Read This: Who gets the child’s custody anyway?

Once Your MOU is completed it would be ready to be submitted into the legal system. Both parties must sign the Separation Agreement. In the presence of a notary public, acknowledgement of everyone's signature must be done. The couple does not need to appear in front of the notary simultaneously or utilize the same notary. Clients can have a single impartial attorney process the MOU for both of you, or the spouses' separate attorneys can collaborate on the final Separation Agreement. When both parties sign and notarize the Separation Agreement, it becomes legally binding. Enforcement of agreements, if either spouse breaks the terms. You cannot backdate an agreement to take into account the period before separation. Only until both spouses have signed and notarized the agreement are you officially separated.

Joint Venture Agreement Format & Required Documents in India
Agreement & Contract

Joint Venture Agreement Format & Required Documents in India

Joint Venture Agreement

Joint Ventures are a business arrangement between two companies looking to synergize their strengths. A joint Venture allows parties to leverage the other party’s skills and resources.

Joint Venture Agreement

A Joint Venture Agreement is a contractual document that governs the relations between Joint Venture Partners. Some key clauses of a Joint Venture Agreement are:

  • Incorporation Clause: This Clause would talk about the setting up of the new entity/special purpose vehicle.

  • Purpose: This Clause highlights the reason behind the parties entering into a joint venture agreement.

  • Management clauses: The clauses which relate to these may include Management, Procedure at Board Meetings, Managing Director, and Shareholders Meeting (all about the prospective entity under the JVA).

  • Boilerplate Clauses: Standard clauses such as termination, indemnity, jurisdiction etc. are boilerplate clauses. These are common across all Joint venture agreements.

People Also Read This: Structuring your Startup as a LLP - To Do or Not To Do

Documents required for a Joint Venture

Now, let’s delve right into the different documents, agreements, and other requisites of a Joint Venture. There are mainly three steps of forming a joint venture, and each step consists of its own specific paperwork. These three steps and their respective documents are as follows:

  1. Preliminary agreements: Term Sheets, Memorandum or Understanding or Letter of Intent.

  2. The Joint Venture Agreement (the “JVA”): The heart of the Joint Venture formation process.

  3. Other Requirements: Smaller agreements which ensure smooth functioning of the Joint Venture.

Memorandum of understanding (“MoU”) for a Joint Venture Agreement

A MoU, forms the basis for the prospective Joint Venture Agreement. Although such MoUs are non-binding, certain clauses like confidentiality, non-compete, non-solicit, etc., are made binding.

People Also Read This: How To Start A Single Person Company in India

Term Sheet for a Joint Venture Agreement

Term Sheets are along the same lines as MoU/LoI and serve almost the same purpose. However, Term Sheets are more direct. A Term Sheet for a JVA will focus much less on formalities and straightaway list down the main deal points of the joint venture arrangement. So, you can assume that it’s more about preference whether one executes a MoU/LoI or a Term Sheet.

Requirements for the Formation of a Joint Venture

Although we’ve already gone through the major requirements, let us not forget the previously mentioned third step, i.e, the other agreements necessary for the proper functioning of a joint venture. You already know that the parties to a JVA must pool in their resources to set up the prospective entity. For this purpose, the following are required:

  • Business Transfer Agreement: A party to a JVA might want to contribute certain assets or technical know-how to the prospective joint venture. Or, perhaps a party may even want to transfer their whole business to this new entity. Either way, for this purpose, a Business Transfer Agreement needs to be executed to effectuate the same.

  • Transfer of Intellectual Property: Intellectual Property like Patents are instrumental in providing the necessary leverage to the new entity. For this purpose, the parties to the contract need to License and/or Assign their intellectual property to the new entity. Such Assignment or Licensing can either be incorporated as clauses in the JVA itself, or separate agreements with regards to these can be executed.

Joint Ventures in the Real Estate and Construction Sector

JVAs are deployed across industries whenever two parties seek to collaborate. The Real-Estate and Construction Sectors are no different. A classic example of such a venture is where one party merely provides the land for developmental purposes, whereas the other party provides all the resources, construction materials and takes the pain to build the project. And then, profits are shared between the parties.

The JVAs in the Real-Estate sector are often referred to as Joint Development Agreements (“JDA”). This terminology is prevalent in the real-estate sector. In a JDA, no new entity is created under the agreement between the parties.

A Joint Venture Agreement hence is a complex agreement and before you enter into the same, do consult a lawyer. A lawyer would counsel you on the various clauses and would also assist you in the negotiation process.