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By Stuart, May 24 2018 12:15PM

Many of you will have heard of “GDPR” – for those who have not, it is not a former East European country but a new approach to the thorny issue of data protection. Up to now the rules may have appeared somewhat cloudy and requests for information have often been met with a “computer says no” response. Well, things are changing.

In essence the General Data Protection Regulations which come into effect on 25 May 2018 provide a new regime where a person’s data or “personal information” is held by organisations such as solicitors’ offices, banks or doctors’ surgeries. It defines and sets out the responsibilities for the organisation as a “data controller” and its staff as “data processor(s)” whilst clarifying the rights of the individual – the “data subject” - to have access to and control of that information (and also to request its destruction). Like all other firms we are publishing a “privacy policy” which explains in detail how we will deal with such information and what can be asked of us.

In practice the new regime does not change things in relation to, for example, requests from outside parties for disclosure of a person’s data; if, for instance, someone out of the blue were to ‘phone a solicitor and ask for a client’s mobile number then s/he will continue to receive the same short shrift as before (we hope). Rather the new regulations are concerned with the rights of the “data subject” in terms of access to and control of the information held by an organisation and also in making requests for its deletion or destruction. The consequences of breaching the regulations are potentially severe – businesses could be fined of hundreds of thousands of pounds and in some cases, individuals may face prosecution.

The GDPR regime requires us as a firm to think carefully about how – and why - we retain information, how we store it, how we protect and safeguard it and ultimately how we dispose of it. From a business point of view there may be headaches but since we are all at the same time “data subjects” then perhaps we can adopt a more positive approach; after all, it could just as easily happen to us.

By Stuart McDonald


The Criminal Justice System is a dynamic environment with changes occurring frequently.  With this constantly changing landscape both in the law and funding, our focus is always on access to justice and ensuring we do the best job we possibly can for our client.  In each of our blog posts, we aim to bring you our view on a topic that is important to each of us.  Please do check back to see the latest post which we will link to on our Twitter account  @hallinans.