In accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this data and Privacy Notice explains, the types of personal data we may collect about you when you interact with us. It also explains how we will store and handle the data and keep it safe.
We know there is a lot of information here, but we want you to be fully informed about your rights, and how our firm uses your data. We hope the following sections will answer any questions you have but if not, please do get in touch with us.
CONDITIONS FOR PROCESSING DATA
We are only entitled to hold and process your data where the law allows us to. The current law and data protection sets out a number of different reasons for which a law firm may collect and process your personal data. These include:
The main purpose for our holding your data is to provide you with legal services under the agreement we have with you. This agreement is the contract between us and the law allows us to process your data for the purposes of performing a contract (or for the steps necessary to enter into a contract). We may also need to process your data to meet our contractual obligations to the Legal Aid Agency where you receive Legal Aid to fund your case.
In specific situations, we require your data to pursue our legitimate interest in a way which might reasonably be expected as part of running our business and which does not materially impact your rights, freedom or interest. This may include to satisfy our external quality auditors such as Lexcel or our current regulators, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA).
If the law requires us to, we may need to collect and process your data. For example, we can pass on details of people involved in fraud or other criminal activity.
We can only collect and process your data with your consent. When it is necessary to do so for the services, we are providing to you.
When do we collect your data?
Usually, we collect your data when you provide it to us or when it is provided to us by others (your opponent solicitors for example) during your case. You may give us your data by email; through an online web enquiry, over the telephone, face to face or by post.
What sort of data do we collect?
We collect your name and contact details. This may include asking for and keeping a copy of your passport/driving licence and proof of address. This is to satisfy our regulatory obligations to identify our clients and also in order to comply with various money laundering obligations.
We may gather details of your age, ethnicity, gender etc. If required to do so by the Legal Aid agency where you are in receipt of Legal Aid. Where you have Legal Aid, we may also gather financial information from you.
We also collect and hold information about your legal problem.
How do we use your data?
We only use your data for the purposes of providing you with legal advice, assistance and where appropriate, representation and for reasons directly associated with those services (i.e. providing information to quality auditors and the Legal Aid Agency etc.).
How do we protect your data?
We take protecting your data extremely seriously. The data you give us may be subject to legal professional privilege (LPP) and is often sensitive and confidential.
With this in mind we treat your data with the utmost care and take all appropriate steps to protect it. We have clear data protection and information security policies and procedures in place (along with regulatory and other legal obligations to keep your data safe) and these are regularly reviewed.
We protect our IT systems from Cyber Attack. Access to your personal data is password protected and sensitive data is secured by encryption.
We regularly monitor our system for possible vulnerabilities and attacks.
How long will we keep your data?
We only keep your data for as long as is necessary for the purpose(s) for which it was provided. Normally this is for six years after your case or matter ends. (Enquiries where we do not take on your case are kept for only 24 months).
This is because we are required to keep client files for that period by our regulator. This protects you if you are unhappy with our services and want to complain or even sue us after your case ends.
Occasionally we may decide that it is proper and appropriate to keep data for longer than six years and we will let you know if this applies to you.
Who do we share your personal data with?
We sometimes share your personal data with trusted third parties. We only do this where it is necessary for providing you legal services or for the effective operation of our legal practice. For example, we may share your data with barristers; experts; costs draughtsmen; translators; process servers; any person involved in our secure file storage, auditors and any company that may be involved in the future in respect of assisting us to securely host any offsite cloud storage servers.
Here is the policy we apply to those organisations to keep your data safe and protect your privacy;
- We provide any information they need to perform their specific services.
- They may only use your data for the exact purpose we specify in our contract with them.
- We work closely with them to ensure your privacy is respected and protected at all times.
- If we stop using their services, any of your data held by them will either be deleted or rendered anonymous.
Where is your data processed?
Your data is stored and processed within the EEA. If we ever have to share your personal data with third parties and suppliers outside the European Economic Area (EEA) we will seek your specific consent to do so. The EEA includes all EU member countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
What are your rights?
You have rights under the General Data Protections Regulation and these include the right to be informed what information we hold about you. In particular, you have the right to request:
- Access to the personal data we hold about you, free of charge in most cases.
- The correction of your personal data when incorrect, out of date or incomplete.
- That we may stop any consent-based processing of their personal data after they have withdrawn consent, or object and we have no legitimate overriding interest, or once the purpose for which we hold the data has come to an end. You also have the right to request a copy of any information about you that we hold at any time.
If we chose not to action your request, we will explain to you the reasons for our refusal.
For information on how your information is used, how we maintain the security of our information, and to exercise your rights to access information we hold on you, please contact us. Similarly, if you believe that the information we hold is wrong or out of date, please let us know and we will update it. The person in this firm responsible for data protection is Sharon Stewart and enquiries and requests can be sent to her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Hitchman & Co, 36 Crayford High Street, Crayford, Dartford, Kent DA1 4HG.
Your right to withdraw consent
Whenever you have given your consent to us using your personal data, you have the right to change your mind at any time and withdraw that consent.
Where we rely on our legitimate interest
In cases where we are processing your personal data on the basis of our legitimate interest, you can ask us to stop for reasons connected to your individual situation. We must then do so unless we believe we have a legitimate overriding reason to continue processing your personal data.
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If you feel your data has not been handled correctly, or you are unhappy with our response to any request you have made to us regarding the use of your personal data, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners Office.
You can contact them by calling 03031 231113 or go online to www.ICO.org.uk/concerns (please note we cannot be responsible for the content of any external websites).
Hitchman & Co