22 May 2017

What sort of protection is in place?

An important part of the way in which we regulate barristers is making sure that there are safeguards in place to protect your interests. There are rules that barristers have to follow to ensure that they remain independent and always act in the best interests of their clients. For example, they cannot accept work where there might be a conflict of interest. These rules cover things such as insurance and the protection of client's data. 

How are clients protected?

What is a conflict of interest?

What is the Data Protection Act and what are barristers required to do under it?

 

How are clients protected?


All barristers are required to have professional indemnity insurance. This is a type of insurance policy that will cover them if they make a mistake which causes you to lose money. This means that you can be assured that you will not lose out financially due to the actions of your barrister.

 

What is a conflict of interest?


Barristers cannot act for you in a situation where they would have a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is where a person should act in a certain way but they have, or appear to have, a reason that would make them act differently. For example, if you instruct a barrister they should be acting in your best interests. However, if the person you were up against in court was a friend or family member of your barrister, it might look like they would not do their best for you. This is a conflict of interest.

 

What is the Data Protection Act and what are barristers required to do under it?


The Data Protection Act controls how your personal information is used by businesses, organisations, and the government.

Everyone who is responsible for using data has to follow rules called 'data protection principles'. They must make sure the information is:

  • used fairly and lawfully;
  • used for limited, specifically stated purposes;
  • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • accurate and up to date;
  • kept for no longer than necessary;
  • handled according to people's data protection rights;
  • kept safe and secure;
  • not transferred outside the UK without proper protection.

Barristers have to comply with these rules. The Data Protection Act gives you the right to find out what information is held about you. This means you could write to a barrister asking for a copy of information they hold about you. They are then legally required to give you this. You can be charged a fee of up to £10 for getting this information. You are entitled to receive a response to your request within 40 days. There are some exceptions in the Act which may mean that someone does not have to provide the information to you.

If you are not satisfied with the response of a barrister to your request, you can complain to the Information Commissioner. More information on how to do this can be found on their website

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