As solicitors, we have always been very careful about how we use your personal information. Solicitors have a strict duty of confidentiality, and we only share your information so that we can provide our service to you.
We also have to comply with data protection laws about how we use the information you provide to us.
This notice explains what information we will hold about you, if you are a client, and what we will do with it.
What data do we hold?
We will ask you to provide us with information about your identity, including your contact details. You can provide us with whatever contact details you choose, but we will need to know your home address.
We will often require documentary evidence of your identity so that we can comply with our anti-money laundering obligations. As part of this process, we may also receive information about you from an identity management company.
If we are acting for you in a transaction, we will normally ask you to provide us with additional information about your financial circumstances, and we might need to ask for documentary evidence.
We will have to ask you for information about your case or transaction. We may do this by asking you to complete a questionnaire, or we might gather information from you during a meeting or telephone conversation.
We will sometimes receive information about you from other sources, such as the other people or organisations involved in a case or transaction. Often, this will be relevant to the work we are doing for you and we will tell you about it.
Telephone calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes.
How do we use your data?
Most of the data we receive will be used to progress the work we are doing for you, so that we can give you advice, or to comply with our legal and regulatory obligations.
We will only share information about you with third parties if we consider that it forms part of our agreement with you to act on your behalf. In any other circumstances, we will ask you for permission.
What disclosure forms part of our agreement with you?
Sometimes it will be obvious that we have to provide your information to another person. For example, if we are acting for you in connection with a case, we have to provide information to the court, the other parties, barristers and experts working on your behalf, etc.; in a property transaction, we may need to provide information to other parties in the transaction, estate agents, search providers, lenders, etc.
We will only share information in this way if we consider it is in your interests.
So that we can provide you with legal services, we also have to work with trusted third parties, and that can sometimes require information about you to be shared with them. These are some examples:
- We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and are required to allow them access to everything we do. That could be information about us, but they could also ask to see your file. We have a similar duty to cooperate with the Legal Ombudsman.
- So that we can maintain the highest quality standards, the work we do is regularly reviewed. Independent auditors may review our files, and accountants will audit our financial compliance. This might be because we ask them to undertake a review, but other organisations with an interest in ensuring that we provide a good service may undertake an audit. These reviews will usually involve random sampling, so information about you and the work we are doing for you may be disclosed in these circumstances.
- To ensure the security of your information and the work we are doing, we outsource various IT services. This includes day-to-day maintenance & security of our IT systems, and maintenance & development of our case management and accounts software. We cannot operate in an effective and secure way without the services they provide, but it is not practical for us to prevent them having sight of your information.
- We back up all of our data so that we can recover it in any unforeseen circumstances. For this to be effective, we have to store it externally. We currently back up our data on UK-based servers and have no plans to use storage options outside of Europe.
- As part of our duty to prevent fraud, money laundering and terrorist activities, we will often verify your identity by obtaining information from an identity management company, which may include information from credit reference agencies and the electoral roll. To do this, we will complete a search form that includes your identity information.
- We may have to provide information about you or the work we are doing for you to our insurance company.
Where practical, if we have to provide information to another person, we will consider if it can be done anonymously and will limit the disclosure to information reasonably required to achieve the objective. We will only work with people we consider to be reputable and that protect your data to the same standards.
The above list is an example of the ways in which we will process your information if you decide to instruct us. It is not intended to be a complete list, but you can always ask us for more information.
Please note that this is a necessary part of our contract with you, and we cannot provide our service to you if you do not agree. You will not be able to opt out, so if you do not want us to use your information in this way, you must not instruct us to act for you.
How long will we keep information about you?
We will normally keep all of the information for 7 years from when our work comes to an end. This is to comply with legal obligations and our insurer’s requirements, and in case we need to review the work we did for you.
After that period, we will only retain limited information: your name and address, a short description of the work we did for you, and our financial records.
More details about our destruction policies will be provided to you separately.
Newsletters and marketing activities
We will not share your personal data with third parties for their marketing purposes.
We would like to keep you informed about legal issues or services that might be of interest to you, but we will only do this if you consent. You are free to opt out at any time, and if we do contact you in this way we will provide information about how to unsubscribe or update your preferences.
What to do if you have any concerns
If you want specific information or you have any concerns about how your data is being used, the best person to speak to initially is the caseworker responsible for your work. Alternatively, you can contact our Client Services team.
In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, please let our Client Services team know immediately. The sooner you tell us, the sooner we can try to put things right or minimise the impact.
You have the right to lodge a complaint with us, and if we are unable to resolve it you can refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. You will find more detailed information about this in our initial information pack or letter, or on our website. You also have the right to lodge a complaint about how we handle your data with the Information Commissioner’s Office.