This policy covers the period in which data is retained by Lincoln House Chambers, it also covers how both hard copy and electronic data are disposed of. Whilst information is retained Chambers Data Protection Policy governs the way in which it is stored and transported (where applicable).
This policy has been constructed based on obligations set by the GDPR and in particular principle 5 which requires personal data processed for any purpose or purposes not to be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.
The data processed by Chambers will be split into three categories, these are:
- Direct Access Case Information – This relates to the data provided by direct access clients to enable to the legal service (contractual relationship) to be fulfilled. It includes the specific case information such as correspondence, evidence, statements, written work etc. It does not include data relating to the financial aspects of the professional relationship (fees charged and payments received) for the service and the client and/or case name and the clients address/contact details. It does not include the name of the other parties involved in the case.
- Professional Client Case Information – This relates to the data provided by professional clients (anything that is not direct access) to enable a legal service (contractual relationship) to be fulfilled. It includes the specific case information such as correspondence, evidence, statements, written work etc. It does not include the data relating to the financial aspects of the professional relationship (fees charged and payments received) for the service and it does not include the name of the client and/or case name, the name of the instructing party, the contact details of the instructing party. It does not include the name of the other parties involved in the case.
- Professional Fees Information – This relates to the data involved in recording the financial aspects of each case. It includes the name of the client and/or case name, the name of the instructing party, the contact details of the instructing party and the name of the other parties involved in the case.
The retention period for the three categories are:
Direct Access Case Information – 7 years following case conclusion.
Members of the Bar are required by their professional conduct rules and by the Data Protection Act to keep information safe. Records must also be retained after a case has concluded: see rC129 of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) Handbook for public access work (min. 7 year retention period), and rC141 of the Handbook for licensed access work (min. 6 year retention). Money Laundering information obtained for direct access cases should be retained for 7 years.
Professional Client Case Information – 7 years following case conclusion.
The 7 year retention period for this category of data is in place to allow for:
- Appeals (including a reasonable provision for appeals out of time
- The use of documents as precedents
- Legal Research relevant to a current case
- Instructions facts or expert opinions that may be relevant to a current case
- Conflict of interest searches
- Complaints or claims against insurers or instructing bodies
Although the Data Retention policy allows Chambers to retain this classification of data for 7 years if there is no specific requirement for us to do so, and where the obligation for data retention is on those instructing us, we reserve the right to return, delete or securely destroy data that is no longer required following the conclusion of our contractual relationship.
Professional Fees Information – Retained indefinitely.
The requirement for retention of barrister financial records remains indefinitely. The information retained is strictly limited to the name of the client/case, the name and contact details of those who instruct and the recording of fee information. In addition to the requirement to retain fee information, the potential for conflicts of interest exist beyond the 7 year retention period and as such it is of benefit to retain client names. However, in the event of a request for the case name or name of the lay client to be anonymised the Data Protection Administrator has the ability to facilitate that.
Date of case conclusion
The date of case conclusion will be the latest date of either the full payment of fees for the case, the date outstanding fees are written off or the concluding court hearing or judgement.
Secure Disposal of Media Equipment
Chambers have a legal responsibility to dispose of redundant equipment responsibly and ensure that the data held on such equipment is securely deleted, especially is it contains ‘personal data’ within the meaning of the General Data Protection Regulation.
Counsel who wishes to dispose of any computer, hard drive, removable drives or other removable media on which sensitive or restricted material has been stored, including computers used at home, must ensure that the relevant media is effectively destroyed or wiped before disposal using a recognised method to ensure that information is put beyond recovery. Mere file deletion, single pass overwriting or reformatting is insufficient. Physical destruction or the use of specialist deletion and overwriting software is required. Chambers offers the service to all members.
The Information Commissioner has the power to award fines of up to £500,000 (or 4% of global worldwide turnover, whichever is higher) for breaches of the Date Protection Act.
Chambers old or broken electronic equipment should be stored in the server room on the 8th floor, which is locked at all times.
All equipment that is for disposal must be completed cleared of data at the very earliest opportunity.
All equipment must be destroyed using Chambers recognised service providers in this area (currently Houghtons Waste Paper Ltd) who comply with the UK Security Shredding Associations code of practice for destruction of confidential material and provide a certificate of destruction.
Secure Disposal of Hard Copy Information
The vast majority of hard copy information that is used by members of chambers is available electronically and stored on the Lex case management system. Very occasionally we will be supplied with a paper brief by those instructing that we do not convert to an electronic file. We ask that any briefs/instructions that are provided in paper form are duplicates and the originals are retained by those instructing.
At the completion of the case of the case the instructing body is given a choice as to whether the hard copy information is returned to them or securely destroyed by chambers. The choice and confirmation of the action is recorded on our CMS.
Any hard copy information that is generated by members from the electronic version held on our CMS is securely destroyed as soon as the case is completed.
The secure destruction facility is available to members for both work instructed through chambers and for private/personal information.
Chambers uses the secure destruction service provided by Houghtons Waste Paper Ltd who comply with the UK Security Shredding Associations code of practice for destruction of confidential material and provide a certificate of destruction.
Deletion of Electronic Data
Both Barristers and Staff are required to fully utilise the Lex CMS for the storage of correspondence and case data. This means that there is a single facility and location for all information relating to a specific case. The case record email facility within Lex allows for emails to be sent directly from the case and in doing that they are stored on the case. Emails that are sent in response to emails sent using this facility are automatically stored on Lex. In the event that emails are sent or received outside Lex they are to be transferred to Lex at the earliest opportunity. Once information is stored on Lex it should be permanently deleted from email accounts.
Any data downloaded from Lex to a device (to enable work to be undertaken) will be permanently deleted from the device following the completion of the task.
Any data obtained from other sources (DCS, downloaded from instructing bodies shared file facility etc) will be downloaded onto Lex and permanently deleted at the earliest opportunity.
Barristers and staff will conduct a bi-weekly review of their devices to ensure that all data is permanently removed.
The longest backup cycle used by Lincoln House Chambers is 3 months. This means that a full backup of Chambers data will exist for 3 months after the date of deletion from the Lex system. At the start of the 4th month the drive is overwritten with the most up to date version of data.