SARNs - bad news : LUSENET : Repossession : One Thread

I have just come across the Court of Appeal Judgment in Durant v FSA, Cort of Appeal, 8 December 2003.

This judgment will restrict severely the data that people can expect to obtain under SARNs

The Court interpreted both 'personal data' and 'relevant files' very narrowly.

The court held that the purpose of (section 7 of)the DPA was to enable people to check whether data held about them infringes their privacy and that it does not provide an automatic key to obtain any information on matters which they may be named or involved. It is not to assist people to obtain discovery of documents that may assist them in litigation or complaints against third parties.

To be 'personal data' information needs to be "biographical in a significant sense, that is, going beyond the recording of the putative data subject's involvement in the matter or an event that has no personal connitations". Personal data was summarised as information affecting a person's privacy, whether in his personal or family life, business or professional capacity.

The mere fact that a document is retrievable by reference to a person's name does not entitle her/him to a copy of it under the Act.

Regarding 'a relevant filing system', the Court held that a filing system must be structured in such a way that the files contained in it must be referenced "in such a way as to clearly indicate at the outset of the search whether specific held within the system and, if so, in which file or files it is held".

In respect of 'relevant files' the court held that to be a such a file, it had to be structured in a way that provides the means to locate documents. In effect, this means that a file itself has to have an iternal indexing system.

The file must have "as part of its own structure or referencing mechanism, a sufficiently sophisticated and detailled means of readily indicating whether and where information about the applicant can readily be located".

It is not sufficient that a file contains the applicant's name on it.

This decision is a serious set-back to people who are trying to obtain information in respect of lenders' shortfall claims and/or those who are trying to uncover misconduct by lenders.

The full judgment can be found on - look for Judgments,Court of Appeal (civil), 8 December 2003.

The IC's comments on the case can be found at - click 'current issues'.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.


-- Guy Skipwith (, January 16, 2004

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