Subject Access Requests

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The problem

When advising employees it is common for lawyers to recommend that they lodge a ‘subject access request’ with their employer. Often this request is made during Tribunal proceedings because of doubts over the completeness of the documents disclosed by the employer. Occasionally, such requests are nothing more than ‘fishing trips’, hoping the request will reveal something useful for their claim.  The problem for employers is knowing how best to deal with such requests.

The principle

Whatever the reason for lodging a subject access request, the law allows them with their main purpose being the right of an individual to check whether their data is being processed unlawfully, (i.e. whether it infringes their privacy).

The practice

The Information Commissioner has now published a code of practice on how to deal with subject access requests for personal information from individuals.  Following this code of practice will be a good start for employers who receive such requests. The code gives practical examples and helps guide ‘data controllers’ through the management of those examples.

For further information, help or advice please contact Tim Davies on 0191 211 7927.