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Subject Access Requests under the Data Protection Act 1998


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16 August 2012

Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 requires data controllers to disclose personal information to data subjects when a subject access request (SAR) is made. This can be both time consuming and costly, meaning it is worthwhile for data controllers to take the time to familiarise themselves with the relevant legislation.

Individuals making an SAR have the right to be given on request a description of the data relating to them, a copy of the data, any information held about the source of the data and any further information needed to understand the data.

SARs must be made in writing and the data controller is entitled to charge a fee not exceeding 10 for dealing with the request. The data controller may also request proof of identity, so as to prevent personal data falling into the wrong hands.

Exemptions to the right of subject access apply where data access would prejudice crime detection or prevention or where data access would endanger physical or mental health. Further exemptions apply where information subject to the legal professional privilege would be disclosed or where the personal data of third parties would be disclosed.

In addition to the above exemptions, data does not have to be created for the purpose of answering a request and it does not have to be released prior to receipt of the written request. Intentional concealment, destruction or alteration of the data is a criminal offence for which individuals and organisations can be prosecuted.

By Aasim Durrani. Aasim is a Trainee Solicitor and can be contacted on

About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-10-26 09:07:46 in Legal Articles

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