Judge’s court notes disclosed following a data subject access request

The beginning of July saw a data protection decision which received little immediate commentary in the legal press, but which is likely to have far reaching consequences for future cases. In response to a request from Alfred Percival for a judge’s handwritten notes, created during Mr Percival’s Employment Tribunal hearing, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) concluded that these notes were liable to be disclosed to Mr Percival as part of his data subject access request. This is being reported as the first disclosure of its nature under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”).

The ICO found that the notes constituted “data” under the DPA because the notes were “recorded as part of a relevant filing system” once they had been transferred to the court file, as the court files were structured according to the specific case and data subject.

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