Often thought of as the modern basis for breach of trust is the case of Coco v A N Clark (Engineers), decided in 1969 in the High Court of the United Kingdom. The case concerned Marco Paolo Coco, a man who designed an engine to be used in mopeds, subsequently entering into negotiations with Clark for the manufacture of the aforementioned engine. During these meetings Mr. Coco provided the defendant information relating to the engine under the expectation that they would manufacture it once the negotiations had ended. The negotiations broke down eventually and no contract was entered into by the parties. After this the defendant started to develop their own moped engine, the design of which resembled Mr. Clark's engine quite vividly, leading to Mr. Coco arguing the defendant had purposefully broken down the negotiations in order to develop its own engine based on his design; subsequently seeking an interim injunction to prevent the defendant from using the information he had provided them for the production of their engine.
|Orville had also developed a moped with more "fantastic" results|
Having considered all of the aforementioned requirements the claimant's action failed, and no injunction was therefore granted. In Justice Megarry's decision the claimant's case was weak at best, and his Honor saw that where information was given to the other party in the expectation that the claimant would be paid, the Court saw that an injunction would not be an appropriate remedy in that instance. Justice Megarry did, however, order that Clark would have to pay a royalty of 5 cents per engine to the claimant should he intend to manufacture those engines.
The Coco case perfectly illustrates the potential loss and problems which could result from a breach of trust should the other party abuse that information for their own benefit. Although the case failed, it still remains an important hallmark in assessing whether a breach of trust has occurred even today all over the common law.