General Data Protection Rules

Just when we thought we had cracked our GDPR rules and most small firms breathed a sigh of relief at being compliant, Brexit has thrown a spanner in the works.

Without going into too much boring detail, in a nutshell, The Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 were made in February last year to deal with post-Brexit data protection in the UK. The main provisions came into force on ‘exit day’ (31 January 2020). The effects of the regulations will not be felt until the end of the Brexit transition period (currently 31 December 2020).I say currently although it is unlikely that the transition period will be extended. Until then, EU GDPR will apply as though the UK was still part of the EU. Unless the transition period is extended a revision of GDPR, known as the ‘UK GDPR’, will come into force on 1 January 2021.

The EU version of GDPR contains many references to EU laws, institutions, currency and powers (among other things) and these will cease to be relevant in the UK after Brexit. The regulations amend GDPR to remove all EU references and replace them with British equivalents where applicable. The functions that are currently under the control of the European Commission will be transferred to the Secretary of State The Right Hon Priti Patel or the information commissioner.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has uncovered a severe breach of GDPR in our own Government Cabinet Office who managed to publish the names and addresses of the 1097 people on the New Year’s Honours list including some prominent figures in UK security , the MOD, holocaust survivors and media personalities. It was published on line on Boxing Day and taken down after an hour. However the ICO are still investigating and may issue the Cabinet with a large fine. Seems we can’t all be perfect!
We also learn this month in published figures that grants of probate are still taking on average 8-10 weeks to be issued. The Government had set its own target of grants being issued within 10 working days. It only achieved 9% of its target in 2019 with the longest one taking 274 days to be issued. These figures are based on applications submitted by solicitors not be members of the public. Personal applications often take must longer as forms are incorrectly completed and documents are missing causing the application to be returned to the family. It is always best to ask a Solicitor to help with this application at such a difficult time.

Also not helping the matter was the software glitch in April 2019 and the 18 probate sub-registries who closed their doors last week with a ‘managed programme’ of further closures is planned. In a letter to stakeholders, the chief executive of HM Courts & Tribunals Service Susan Acland-Hood promised the closures would not set back probate applications. As part of the government’s £1bn modernisation programme which is already 3 years in, probate requests will now be handled by national courts and tribunals’ service centres. However in September 2019 almost 77 local courts were due to be closed under the Justice Transformation scheme while magistrates’ courts sat empty and court cases were delayed unnecessarily. For an already overloaded court circuit, the ripple affect into family cases and now probate cases is already taking effect with emergency family cases taking at least 3-4 weeks to get a hearing date.
I hope to have more encouraging legal news next month as we travel through the “aftermath of Brexit”. Watch this space…………….

Until then Stay Safe and Stay Legal.


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