IT Panel blog: Data protection - make sure you comply

15 June 2017

Regular readers of the IT item in BarTalk will have realised that we have recently placed a lot of emphasis on the need for members of the Bar to comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is becoming increasingly concerned about lapses and is ready to hand out monetary penalties where information about individuals is disclosed without their agreement - think of the TalkTalk scandal on a grand scale of data breaches. Sadly, members of the Bar have been on the receiving end of enforcement action from the ICO, including monetary penalties, albeit at a rather more modest level.

One of the issues we have not mentioned is the initial notification. Every barrister is required to notify their processing with the ICO which is then placed on a register. The notification discloses the uses to which he or she intends to put personal information. The Bar Council has published a guide on notification requirements. Please note one recent development. The 'barrister' template in the ICO's template wording for registration used to not include pupils or chambers staff. The Bar Council has asked the ICO to amend it to include these categories

This change has the following consequences: 

  1. When barristers register for the first time, this new wording will appear as the template.

  1. When barristers renew their existing registration, the previous wording will appear by default. (You can change it to the new wording but this needs to be done manually at any time, and costs nothing). 

If your processing is reflected by the changed wording you should make the change ASAP. If you do not make the suggested changes, but your processing is not reflected by your notification YOU MAY BE COMMITTING A CRIMINAL OFFENCE. Please take time to check whether your notification reflects the processing that you do or may do.  Could each of you please make the necessary amendments or have your chambers' administrator do it on your behalf as soon as possible. 

Written by members of the Bar Council's IT Panel.