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Information overload

A recent case on Data Protection Act requests sheds some light on solicitors' duties, but further clarification is needed, says Seamus Smyth

16 August 2010

Every law firm is a data controller, with a data protection officer. Your DPO will be grateful to you for being aware of his duties, and managing your file accordingly.

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) allows many people to demand information from your firm. The DPA, regulations and guidance are not an easy read. Nor do they answer all the questions relating to solicitors’ obligations. In Durant v FSA [2003] EWCA Civ 1746, the Court of Appeal dispelled some of the fog, but, for law firms, not much.

Who can make a DPA request?

Any individual who pays the fee. DPA requests cannot be made by companies, trusts, executors, administrators, PRs, local authorities, governments (local or foreign) or presumably partnerships. DPA requests can only be made by people with their own privacy to protect.

Is it only clients who can make DPA requests?

No. It could be anyone on whom your firm holds data. For priv...

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