Essential Components of Non-Disclosure Agreements for Australian Startups and Scaleups

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a vital legal document that establishes confidentiality obligations between two parties regarding specific types of information. In the Australian startup industry, NDAs are commonly utilised in various scenarios, including in pre-contractual negotiations, employment relationships, contractor agreements, and governance documents for board members. These agreements ensure that individuals involved in the startup have access to sensitive information while protecting your confidential data. This blog outlines seven of the key elements to include in an NDA to ensure its effectiveness and compliance with Australian legal requirements.

  1. Definition of Confidential Information
    The NDA must include a clear and comprehensive definition of the specific categories or types of information deemed confidential and subject to protection under the agreement This can include trade secrets, financial information, customer lists, proprietary technology, or any other sensitive data that the parties intend to keep confidential. Providing specific examples helps to establish a comprehensive understanding of what falls under the agreement’s protection.
  2. Obligations of the Receiving Party
    It is important to outline the obligations of the party who will have access to the confidential information. The obligations should emphasise the duty to maintain strict confidentiality and restrict the use of the information solely for agreed-upon purposes. The agreement should also prohibit the receiving party from disclosing or exploiting confidential information without prior consent.
  3. Term of the Agreement
    It is important to clearly define the time frame during which the receiving party is bound by the agreement’s obligations. Commonly, NDAs have a defined term, but it may also be appropriate to include provisions for termination upon the occurrence of specific events or mutual agreement between the parties.
  4. Exclusions
    NDAs often identify information that is exempt from the definition of confidential information. This may include information that is already publicly available, disclosed by a third party without breaching confidentiality, or known to the receiving party before entering into the agreement. By explicitly stating these exclusions, the NDA avoids ambiguity and potential disputes regarding what constitutes confidential information.
  5. Remedies for Breach
    It is important to specify the available remedies for the disclosing party in case of a breach of the NDA. These remedies may include injunctive relief, monetary damages, specific performance, or any other appropriate legal remedies. Clearly articulating the consequences that the breaching party may face will help deter potential violations and safeguard the interests of the disclosing party.
  6. Dispute Resolution and Governing Law
    NDAs commonly include alternative dispute resolution mechanisms which generally require disputing parties to attend mediation (or similar) before proceeding to court. However, the agreement commonly includes a carve-out enabling the parties to go straight to court for an injunction to prevent anticipated or ongoing breaches. The NDA must specify the governing law that will govern the interpretation and enforcement of the NDA.
  7. Signature and Date
    It is important to ensure that an NDA is signed by all parties involved, as this indicates their agreement to the terms and conditions of the NDA. Signatures can be in the form of traditional hard copies or electronic signatures. If using electronic signatures, employ reputable e-signature services that time-stamp the signatures and indicate the parties involved. Regardless of the format, retain easily accessible copies of the signed NDA for future reference.

Consulting with legal professionals is highly recommended to ensure that the NDA aligns with your specific business situation. Adventum Legal can provide expert guidance to ensure you have an NDA that adequately protections your confidential information. We would love to hear from you – just click here.


  • Kelly Tudhope

    Kelly is also an experienced regulatory compliance lawyer. She assists clients to navigate through the minefield of regulatory investigations, including those initiated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. She advises on and responds to regulatory notices, advocates on behalf of clients and provides in-house corporate compliance training, policies, and procedures.

  • Kirstie Le Lievre

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