Data protection and FOI

Our expert lawyers provide pragmatic advice on data protection, freedom of information and information management for commercial businesses and the public sector. We are the only UK law firm accredited by the British Computer Society to deliver training leading to the award of the BCS (formerly ISEB) Certificates in Data Protection Law and in Freedom of Information Law.

Main areas of practice

We provide prompt, accurate and tactical legal advice. We work with clients to provide solutions that fit harmoniously with their internal processes and culture in order to enhance and develop existing compliance.

For commercial organisations

Compliance with information law requirements can be seen as a luxury or an unnecessary distraction from the every day business of an organisation. But compliance with the Data Protection Act (DPA) makes good business sense and can save money and effort in the long run. Poor compliance can be a source of significant risk to reputation and customer confidence. It can also result in prosecution, civil claims and enforcement action including the imposition of monetary penalties. Developments at EU level both in proposed legislation and in European Court decisions mean data protection and information security compliance are and will remain key business priorities – full compliance with the DPA now will put UK businesses in the best place as EU law in this area unfolds and develops.

Public sector organisations

We face challenges and operate in an environment subject to continuous scrutiny – we help clients understand their obligations, implement appropriate systems for compliance and manage specific challenges as they arise from time to time.

We provide well informed, but practical advice in connection with information requests made under the DPA, the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations and in relation to Information Commissioner investigations.

As well as providing legal advice on data protection and freedom of information issues, our expert lawyers provide guidance on:

  • Environmental Information Regulations
  • Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements
  • Data sharing and data processing agreements
  • Data protection audit and advice on information security and governance (including data retention, privacy impact assessment and privacy by design)
  • Marketing and privacy (including guidance on electronic marketing consent requirements and the use of cookies and apps)
  • Social media and confidentiality (including employment related aspects such as bring your own device (BYOD)
  • Sales and use of databases 
  • Cross-border data flows and the cloud
  • Litigation disclosure rules 
  • Public procurement rights of access

Clients 

Our clients include charitable bodies, universities, schools and colleges, health and social care providers, public authorities and commercial organisations generally as well as data rich businesses ranging from start ups processing data in novel ways through to large corporates involved with cloud computing and trans-border data flows.

Significant experience 

  • Advising a number of educational bodies and regulatory bodies on complex freedom of information requests – including cross-compliance with data protection and litigation disclosure rules.
  • Acting for several NHS clients in Information Tribunal proceedings arising from contested FOIA requests.
  • Advising a world leading UK charity on cross-border data flows and compliance with overseas legislation.
  • Conducting a major data protection compliance project with a UK university.
  • Advising on cross border data processing arrangements and related transborder data privacy issues between the UK and US for an international bank.
  • Working with a leading insurance claims management provider to put in place compliant and practical data sharing and processing arrangements.
  • Advising a major price comparison website in connection with contractual arrangements with insurers and the drafting of online privacy notices.
  • Guiding a leading fitness club through a self-reporting process to the ICO and related communication with members following a break-in.
  • Drafting a data sharing agreement for use between a utility company and individual local authorities and advising on the processes to be put in place when individual requests for data are made.
  • Advising an international hotel chain in connection with international data sharing and consent requirements when engaging in e-marketing.
  • Acting for the claimant in high court proceedings arising from a contested subject access request.

Other expertise

We deliver BCS (formerly ISEB) accredited training courses quarterly from our own offices and also on an in-house basis by arrangement. We also deliver tailored training to clients on information management issues including data protection and FOIA. This ranges from high level training to assist executive boards to identify risk and set strategic priorities, to detailed technical training for information governance officers, and whole workforce training to raise awareness, enhance compliance and comply with ICO recommendations following enforcement action. We provide regular updates and briefings on UK and European data protection and information law developments.

We also work closely with the Centre for Information Law at the University of Winchester (one of only two such dedicated centres in the UK).

Through our membership of the IT law network euroITcounsel (a network of leading IT/data privacy Firms) we are able to provide seamless data privacy advice across all the main EU jurisdictions and we also work with specialist lawyers in other jurisdictions including the USA to ensure we can provide authoritative advice and guidance on data handling in an increasingly global environment. 

Related expertise

Main contacts

Related Knowledge & Resources

Update on GDPR: the Data Protection Bill

News

The Government has published its Data Protection Bill, giving some additional considerations for employers to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force next May.

Survey reveals nine out of ten businesses are not ready for the new data rules

Press Release

A survey by leading law firm Blake Morgan has revealed nine out of 10 businesses have still not made crucial updates to their privacy policies – a key requirement ahead of major changes to data protection laws.

Government announces more details of data protection bill

Press Release

On 7 August the government published a 'Statement of Intent' in relation to the new Data Protection Bill.

What does the election result mean for data protection?

Our expert Jon Belcher explains the election result will have an impact on data protection law in the UK.

Cyber security and data protection: are you doing enough?

Ensuring your IT systems are secure is necessary not only as part of good business practice, but also because organisations holding information about individuals have specific regulatory obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Nuisance call company receives record fine

The ICO has issued a £400,000 penalty to Keurboom Communications Limited for breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Keurboom had made nearly 100 million automated marketing calls over an 18 month period!

A Data Protection Bill - Fit For the Digital Age?

The Data Protection Bill (the Bill) was placed before the House of Lords on Wednesday (13th September). A copy of the Bill in its current form was published shortly afterwards and can be found...

General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679)

the GDPR will become directly applicable in all EU member states and, despite Brexit negotiations, the UK Government has confirmed that it will be implementing these new rules in full. Designed to be more future-proof than its predecessor.

The Queen’s Speech and data protection - Keeping UK Data Protection “world class” and implementing the General Data Protection Regulation

The Queen’s Speech on 21 June set out the UK Government’s legislative programme included plans for a Data Protection Bill to ensure that the UK retains its “world-class” data protection regime.