We process personal information about individuals where it is necessary in the context of a contract or the intention to enter into a contract.
We can only be as good as the information we are supplied with allows us to be. If you do not provide us with adequate information, which will include personal data, we will be unable to assist you. Where very limited information is supplied we will not be able to act for you and we will not accept your instructions, because it would be professionally wrong for us to act on such limited information.
Personal information which you supply to us will be used in connection with the legal services you have asked us to provide. We routinely collect personal information from clients about themselves and about others connected with a case.
We may share your information with and obtain information about you and other people connected with the case from third parties to include barristers, expert witnesses, schools, colleges Local Authorities and the relevant Court or Tribunal.
We may also obtain publicly accessible information about you and others connected with the case in the course of our contract. There are times when information online might influence your case and it is important for us to know what it is.
Where it is necessary in the context of the work we are doing for you, we will process “special categories” of personal information, particularly data concerning physical and mental health. We are allowed to do this because processing of this information is allowed where necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims. It is very often essential to the work that we are doing that we obtain data about an individual’s physical or mental health in order to enforce the relevant legal right against a Local Authority, School or other organisation.
We enter into one contract per individual, even if we end up doing a number of different pieces of work for that person and by entering into a contact with you we will process personal data in accordance with this policy until the contract is terminated. You will enter into separate contracts with us if you are instructing us in respect of more than one child or adult who lacks capacity as there will be one contract per person.
We may also process personal data in accordance with our legal obligations. This means that we are required to comply with legislation on the proceeds of crime, money laundering and terrorist financing which can require us to disclose confidential information about a client to the National Criminal Intelligence Service. This is not an exhaustive list. HMRC can also require us to disclose information about clients. A Court or Tribunal can require us to disclose information or documents. A warrant may permit a Police Officer or others to seize confidential documents from us.
We may also process personal data where it is necessary to protect an interest which is essential for your life or that of any other individual. This means that we may contact the police and/or social services where a client says that they are going to seriously harm or kill themselves. We might also report to the police information to the extent we consider necessary to prevent you or a third party committing a criminal act we reasonably believe is likely to result in serious bodily harm. Where there is a sufficiently serious threat to a child’s life or physical or mental health, we may disclose the matter to the appropriate authorities to protect the child. The same is true where there is a sufficiently serious threat to a vulnerable adult. We may also process data where processing is necessary for humanitarian purposes, including in disaster situations whether natural or man-made.
Our legitimate interests
We are entitled to process personal data on the basis of our own interests where the interests or the fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject are not overriding, taking into consideration your reasonable expectations as our clients as to the reasons for which we might process data. You are entitled to object to us processing your data on this ground. If you do, we will consider whether we have a compelling legitimate ground for processing the data in this way which is sufficient to override your interests, rights or freedoms. We will also consider whether processing is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
By way of a practical illustration, it is in our interests and in those of the majority of our clients that we are able to recover outstanding debts from clients who have not paid our professional fees. It is in our interests and of wider public interest that we are not used to perpetrate a fraud or other criminal offence.
On this basis we may disclose details of unpaid debts to third parties to assist us in recovering the debt. We process data where strictly necessary to prevent fraud. Where we have strong evidence and it appears self-evident that a client has used us to perpetrate a fraud or other crime we will disclose information to the Police. Where it is reasonably necessary to reveal confidential information to establish a defence to a criminal charge or civil claim by a client against us or where our conduct is under investigation by the Legal Ombudsman, the SRA or the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal we will disclose that information to those bodies.
We will retain your data until the end of our contract with you. At that time we will endeavour to return all of your papers to you and we will delete the data we hold about you, unless you ask us to retain the data. We may ask to keep some personal data for the purposes of direct marketing on an ongoing basis. We have the right to retain data beyond the end of our contract where it is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation or for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
Access to your information and correction
You have the right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you. If you would like a copy of some or all of your personal information, please email or write to us at the address given at the end of this document. Until 24th May 2018 we may make a small charge for this service.
We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date. You may (and we would very much encourage you to do so) ask us to correct or remove information you consider is inaccurate.
You have the usual right of complaint to us, in accordance with our Complaints Policy if you are not satisfied with how we have handled your data. You also have the right to complain to [the Information Commissioner’s Office] in respect of how we have processed your personal data.
If you would like any further information about how we will use your data, how we maintain the security of your information and your rights to access the information we hold on you and your child or adult relative who lacks capacity to instruct us please contact us using our contact form.