Durant v Financial Services Authority: CA 8 Dec 2003

The appellant had been unsuccessful in litigation against his former bank. The Financial Services Authority had subsequently investigated his complaint against the bank. Using section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998, he requested disclosure of his personal data held by the bank. The Financial Services Authority disclosed some copies of documents relating to the appellant but had redacted those documents so as to remove information which it said did not amount to his personal data and so as to remove the names of another individual. The appeal turned on the meaning of ‘data which relate to a living individual who can be identified’. There was no dispute that Mr Durant’s name could be found in the documents but Mr Durant was seeking disclosure of the documents in which he was mentioned on the ground that those documents related to his name.
Held: The 1998 Act enabled an individual to obtain from a data controller’s manual or computerised filing, his personal data: information about himself. It is not an entitlement to be provided with original or copy documents as such, but with information constituting personal data in intelligible and permanent form.
The information sought was not with regard to issues as to respect to his privacy, but rather as regards information gathered on the complaint. It was not his personal data. Parliament intended to apply the Act to manual records only if they are of sufficient sophistication to provide the same or similar ready accessibility as a computerised filing system. The mere mention of the data subject in a document held by a data controller did not necessarily amount to his personal data and suggested two notions that might be of assistance in determining whether it did. One of these was whether the information was biographical in a significant sense. The other was one of focus.
Auld LJ defined ‘personal data’: ‘not all information retrieved from a computer search against an individual’s name or unique identifier is personal data within the Act. Mere mention of the data subject in a document held by a data controller does not necessarily amount to his personal data. Whether it does so in any particular instance depends on where it falls in a continuum of relevance or proximity to the data subject as distinct, say, from transactions or matters in which he may have been involved to a greater or lesser degree. It seems to me that there are two notions that may be of assistance. The first is whether the information is biographical in a significant sense, that is, going beyond the recording of the putative data subject’s involvement in a matter or an event that has no personal connotations, a life event in respect of which his privacy could not be said to be compromised. The second is one of focus. The information should have the putative data subject as its focus rather than some other person with whom he may have been involved or some transaction or event in which he may have figured or have had an interest, for example, as in this case, an investigation into some other person’s or body’s conduct that he may have instigated. In short, it is information that affects his privacy, whether in his personal or family life, business or professional capacity.’

Auld, Buxton, Mummery LJJ
[2003] EWCA Civ 1746, Times 02-Jan-2004, [2004] FSR 28
Data Protection Act 1998 7
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Brown (Gregory) HL 9-Feb-1996
The issue was whether ‘data’ within the Data Protection Act 1984 was limited to data in computer-readable form.
Held: The offence of the ‘use’ of protected data required something beyond inspection on a computer screen including printout. . .
CitedRegina v Commissioner of Police for The Metropolis, ex parte Rottman HL 16-May-2002
The defendant had been arrested under an extradition warrant issued under the Act. The police had searched his premises, and found further evidence which was used to support the application for extradition. He challenged the collection and admission . .
CitedCampbell v Mirror Group Newspapers plc CA 14-Oct-2002
The newspaper appealed against a finding that it had infringed the claimant’s privacy by publishing a photograph of her leaving a drug addiction clinic.
Held: The claimant had courted publicity, and denied an involvement in drugs. The defence . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Health ex parte British American Tobacco (Investments) Ltd and Imperial Tobacco Ltd ECJ 10-Dec-2002
The respondent sought to transpose the Directive into UK law. The Applicant objected saying that the Directive was invalid.
Held: The Directive had been made under Article 95 EC, concerning the internal market. Insofar as the Directive . .
CitedGaskin v The United Kingdom ECHR 7-Jul-1989
The applicant complained of ill-treatment while he was in the care of a local authority and living with foster parents. He sought access to his case records held by the local authority but his request was denied.
Held: The refusal to allow him . .
CitedRegina (Daly) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 23-May-2001
A prison policy requiring prisoners not to be present when their property was searched and their mail was examined was unlawful. The policy had been introduced after failures in search procedures where officers had been intimidated by the presence . .
CitedLord, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 1-Sep-2003
The claimant was a category A prisoner serving a sentence of life imprisonment for murder. He sought the reasons for his categorisation as a Class A prisoner. Unhappy at the disclosure made, he sought information under the 1998 Act. It was argued . .
Appeal fromDurant v Financial Services Authority CC 24-Oct-2002
(Edmonton County Court) The claimant sought disclosure under the Act from the FSA of its file relating to his dealings with Barclays Bank. Though the claim generally failed, the court considered how it would have exercised his discretion under . .

Cited by:
CitedSmith v Lloyds TSB Bank Plc ChD 23-Feb-2005
The respondent declined to produce information held about the claimant saying that it was not held within a filing system so as to bring it within the Act.
Held: ‘the legislature has taken a policy decision not to bring unstructured files . .
CitedCommon Services Agency v Scottish Information Commissioner IHCS 1-Dec-2006
The Agency rejected a request to provide statistics on certain children, saying that the numbers were so small that individuals might be identified.
Held: Since the whole purpose of 2002 Act is the release of information, it should be . .
CitedCommon Services Agency v Scottish Information Commissioner HL 9-Jul-2008
An MP had asked the Agency under the 2002 Act for details of all incidents of childhood leukaemia for both sexes by year from 1990 to 2003 for all the DG (Dumfries and Galloway) postal area by census ward. The Agency replied by saying that the . .
CitedLampert v Information Commissioner and Financial Services Authority FTTGRC 7-Jun-2011
For the reasons set out, the Public Authority was not obliged to comply with the Complainant’s request for information by reason of sections 14(1) and 14(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. No action is required by the Public Authority. . .
CitedKJO v XIM QBD 7-Jul-2011
The claimant had, some 20 years previously, been convicted and sentenced for forgery of a will. The defendants, relatives, had ever since written to those with whom he had dealings to tell them of the conviction and facts. The claimant, unable to . .
CitedThe Information Commissioner v The FSA and Edem UTAA 11-Dec-2012
Information rights – Data protection – whether a person’s name constitutes personal data. As the decision of the First-tier Tribunal (made on 16 April 2012 under reference EA/2011/0132) involved the making of an error in point of law, it is SET . .
CitedOates v Information Commissioner FTTGRC 20-Dec-2013
Whether information held s.1 FOIA – Personal data s.1(1) DPA Personal data s.40 FOIA . .
CitedEdem v The Information Commissioner and Another CA 7-Feb-2014
The claimant sought disclosure of the names of officials of the Financial Services Authority who had dealt with his complaint. He now appealed against reversal of an order that they be disclosed.
Held: The appeal failed. The court approved the . .
CitedDeer v University of Oxford CA 6-Feb-2015
The claimant had previously succeeded in a claim of sex discrimination against the University, her former employer. She now appealed against rejection of her claims alleging later victimisation.
Held: Two appeals succeed, and those matters . .
CitedDawson-Damer and Others v Taylor Wessing Llp and Others ChD 6-Aug-2015
The clamants sought orders under the 1998 Act for disclosure of documents about them by the defendant solicitors and others. The defendants said that the request would require the consideration of a very large number of documents, considering in . .
CitedScott v LGBT Foundation Ltd QBD 3-Mar-2020
Disclosure of risk of self harm made no claim
The claimant complained that the respondent support group had disclosed to his doctor that fact that they had assessed him as being at significant risk of suicide or other substantial self-harm, and that it was at that time unable to provide Mr . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Financial Services, Information

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.188641