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3 November 2016

Data Protection: Personal liability for directors?

The Digital Economy Bill ("the Bill") is making its way through the House of Commons and is expected to become law in Spring 2017.

Earlier this month, as part of the progress of the Bill, the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, who was appointed in July this year, confirmed that she would support moves to introduce provisions to hold directors to account for serious breaches of data protection laws.

At present, the Information Commissioner’s Office (“the ICO”) is able to issue fines against companies for breaches of data protection laws and it is estimated that around £4 million fines have been issued in the last year. The Information Commissioner likened the process to a game of whack-a-mole, with companies going out of business in order to avoid paying the fines and then reappearing in a new guise, and stressed the importance of being able to hold directors accountable. It is not yet clear how the Information Commissioner’s concerns in this area will be addressed, but an increase in the actions taken by directors which potentially attract personal liability could be on the horizon.

The Bill, once passed, is likely to have a significant impact on various matters and contains proposals to ensure improved connectivity across the UK as well as, more controversially, a proposal to enable the Government to share information on members of the public with private companies, such as energy companies.

More information on the proposals contained in the Bill can be found here and its progress can be tracked on the Parliament website.

If you have any queries on your responsibility as a director which you would like to discuss with us, please contact commercial@steeleslaw.co.uk. Alternatively, more information on this subject can be found in our guide.

This article is for general guidance only. It is not to be relied upon and professional advice should always be taken on specific circumstances.