Privacy & transparency in the family courts – Sir Andrew MacFarlane reports

November 2nd, 2021 by Anya Proops QC

The issue of how the protection of privacy rights should be balanced as against the fundamental public interest in achieving transparency and open justice within the family justice system has long vexed the family division of the High Court. On the one hand, ensuring the confidentiality of family law proceedings is crucial both in terms of protecting the fundamental privacy rights of those individuals who find themselves caught up in such proceedings and in terms of maximising their engagement in the process. On the other hand, a lack of meaningful transparency around the work of the family courts undermines public trust in the family justice system, increases the risk of miscarriages of justice and inhibits the public’s ability to press for reforms of the system on a properly informed basis. Read more »


G7 announces new Digital Trade Principles

October 26th, 2021 by Anya Proops QC

Just a quick heads up in case you missed it. The G7 Trade Ministers have in the last few days agreed a set of Digital Trade Principles, which are aimed, amongst other things, at demonstrating a commitment to achieving: Read more »


FOIA and security bodies: running sections 23 and 24 together

October 18th, 2021 by Robin Hopkins

Some knotty FOIA debates end up generating confusing and apparently contradictory case law; some others get resolved by an authoritative three-person Upper Tribunal. The recent judgment of the UT (Mrs Justice Farbey and UT Judges Mullan and Wikeley) in FCDO v IC, Williams and Others [2021] UKUT 248 (AAC) is a neat example of the latter. It deals with the interplay between sections 23 and 24 of FOIA. Read more »


Reforming UK data protection laws – the ICO responds

October 12th, 2021 by Anya Proops QC

Following the Government’s announcement of its proposals to amend the UK data protection legislation (which you can read about in Katherine’s Taunton’s post here), the ICO has now published its response to those proposals – see here. As expected, the core thrust of the response is that, in pressing for a new more business and particularly tech-friendly data protection regime, the Government should be careful not to throw the data privacy baby out with the bathwater. Not least, we see Elizabeth Denham, in her foreword to the response, emphasising the point that achieving public trust in business – particularly in the tech sector – through the maintenance of high standards of data protection is itself integral to the achievement of economic growth. In terms of the detail, there is much to pore over in a response that runs to some 89 pages. However, points that particularly caught my eye include the following: Read more »


Immigration Exemption Update

October 11th, 2021 by Christopher Knight

Back in late May 2021, it will be recalled that the Court of Appeal found the immigration exemption in para 4 of Schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act 2018 to be unlawful in its failure to comply with Article 23(2) GDPR: see the post here. The judgment made clear that the question of relief would be a matter for further submissions. A hearing was held on the question of relief on 8 October 2021, at the end of which the Court of Appeal announced in open court its decision. The immigration exemption will be declared to be unlawful, but that declaration will be suspended until 31 January 2022. In other words, the Government has until the end of January 2022 to introduce and bring into effect legislation amending the exemption, so as to avoid harm to the public interest. If it fails to do so, the exemption will be disapplied from that date. The Government’s current stated intention is to amend para 4 by means of regulations made under section 16 DPA. The reasons for that ruling will be handed down in due course.

Christopher Knight


Government reveals plans for post-Brexit data regime

September 17th, 2021 by 11KBW Blogs

In the last few days, the UK government has begun a public consultation on its plan to reform data protection legislation in the wake of Brexit entitled Data: A new direction. It says the aim is to create a more “pro-growth and pro-innovation” regime to achieve what the (now former) DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden dubbed a “data dividend” for the British economy.

As regular Panopticon readers will know, the UK’s data protection regime has principally been driven by the EU framework – most recently in the form of the GDPR. Following the end of the Brexit transition period from January 2021, the GDPR (which during the UK’s membership of the EU had direct effect) was transposed into domestic law with minor changes. This means there is now the ‘EU GDPR’, in force across the 27 Member States, and the ‘UK GDPR’ which is applicable in the UK.

Even before the UK GDPR came into force in January 2021, however, the government had stated its intention to diverge from EU data protection law as part of its National Data Strategy, at least to some extent. These proposals are the first concrete step in that direction. Read more »