Protecting sensitive information is crucial for tech businesses of all sizes. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are a common tool used to safeguard confidential information, but are they always necessary? Let’s explore the role of NDAs and how they help tech companies.

Understanding NDAs

An NDA, or Confidentiality Agreement, is a legally binding contract that establishes a confidential relationship between parties. It ensures that any sensitive information shared between them is not disclosed to third parties without permission. NDAs are commonly used before parties enter into a larger contract; often during the negotiation phase when sharing business insights, data, pricing, knowhow or other proprietary information may be necessary. 

When Are NDAs Necessary?

Protecting Intellectual Property (IP)

Your business very likely creates IP every day, from blogs and documents to images and strategies, therefore it is vital that it is protected. This is especially true if your business deals with proprietary technology, software, or any unique processes. An NDA can be used to protect your intellectual property (whether it is registered or otherwise). By preventing the unauthorised sharing of your IP, you maintain a competitive edge and safeguard your innovations. 

During Business Negotiations

NDAs are crucial when discussing any potential contracts, mergers, acquisitions, or other partnerships, and there is no contractual framework in place to offer basic confidential protection. This is why it’s important to ask the other party to sign an NDA as soon as negotiations begin; they ensure that any confidential information shared during these discussions remains protected, even if the deal does not go through! 

Engaging with Contractors and Freelancers

When working with external parties, such as contractors, freelancers, or consultants, an NDA ensures that your sensitive information, like business plans, pricing, strategy or customer lists, is not disclosed or misused. 

When Might NDAs Be Unnecessary? 

Public Information

If the information you are sharing is already publicly available, an NDA may not be necessary. For example, discussing general industry trends or publicly known technologies doesn’t typically require an NDA. If the information is in the public domain, then everyone can get their hands on it – it’s not worth the protection. 

Mutual Trust and Long-standing Relationships

In scenarios where there is a strong, established relationship built on trust, you might decide that an NDA is not essential. However, this decision should be made very cautiously, as even trusted relationships can sour. We always recommend that businesses enter an NDA – better to be safe, than sorry! 

Non-Confidential Collaborations

If your collaboration or partnership does not involve sharing sensitive or proprietary information, an NDA might be redundant. An example would be both parties hosting a charity or industry event. However, it’s essential to clearly define what constitutes non-confidential information to avoid misunderstandings.

Drafting an Effective NDA

In instances where an NDA is necessary, ensuring it is well-drafted is critical. A good NDA should:

1. Clearly Define Confidential Information

Specify what information is considered confidential and what is excluded. This prevents ambiguity and ensures both parties understand their obligations. It’s usually good practice to focus on information that isn’t confidential, which are usually:  

  • Public information; 
  • Information order to be disclosed by a court or other authority; 
  • Information that was given to a party by a third party*; 
  • Information that was developed independently by a party*; 
  • Information expressly marked “not confidential”!  

*Assuming that the information was not received in breach of any agreement!

2. Set the Duration 

Outline how long the confidentiality obligation lasts. The courts will generally want to see that a business has reasonably considered the period of confidentiality In Tech specifically, today’s secrets in two years are old news! Therefore we usually say 2-5 years is reasonable. 

3. Include Obligations and set out the “Purpose”

Detail the obligations of the receiving party; what must they do?  

For example, the receiver: 

  • Needs to keep the information safe. 
  • When asked, must return or destroy information appropriately. 
  • Not share information with any unauthorised parties. 
  • Not modify and/or amend the information. 
  • If there is software, not introduce viruses. 


With this in mind, we always suggest setting out a defined “purpose” for which the information can be used. For example; specifying that confidential information must only be used for the purpose of Y potentially selling the software of X.

4. Specify Consequences

Clearly state the consequences of breaching the NDA. These can include potential legal action and damages and injunctions.  Note: we usually suggest avoiding consequences like indemnities, as they receive pushback from the other party and there is no guarantee they will be found to be enforceable. 

The Role of NDAs

Under English law, the courts will enforce an NDA if it is reasonable and does not impose undue restrictions. Overly broad or indefinite NDAs may be deemed unenforceable, and the other party may not wish to sign it in the first place, so it’s important to draft them carefully. 


For tech businesses, NDAs can be a vital tool in protecting sensitive information and maintaining competitive advantage. While they are not always necessary, understanding when and how to use them effectively can safeguard your business interests. When in doubt, it’s always wise to consult with legal professionals to ensure your NDAs are robust and enforceable under English law. 

By leveraging NDAs appropriately, your business can confidently engage in negotiations, collaborations, and innovations without the fear of confidential information falling into the wrong hands.


Looking to Create an NDA? 

The NDA template available Cloud Contracts 365 has been built with tech businesses in mind. Sign up now for a free trial and get instant access to our NDA template, in addition to our AI contract review tool that will assess your document just as a human lawyer would, providing you with a summary on where the legal risk is and how to mitigate it. Get started here: Cloud Contracts 365 | Contract Management Made Simple 

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