Data Protection Act

The Data Protection Act has recently been brought to public attention following the conviction of an estate agent who failed to comply with its regulations. As per the 1998 Act it is mandatory for businesses to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office should they process personal data and any failure to do so is a criminal offence, unless there is an exemption.

Whilst there is a charge of £35.00 to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office of such information, failure to notify can ultimately result in being fined up to £5,000 in the Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court. It is essential that warnings and reminders to notify are dealt with promptly and not ignored, as those charged can still be convicted even if the matter is dealt with prior to their court case. The recent publicised trial saw the defendant being convicted under Section 17 of the Data Protection Act 1998. He was consequently given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £614.00 in respect of prosecution costs, despite having notified the Information Commissioner’s Office by the time his case was heard.

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