Client Confidentiality & Disclosure Policy
As a solicitor, Mrs Karen Pointon will be placed under a professional and legal duty to keep all clients’ affairs confidential – this duty continues long after each claim has settled and in most circumstances, will continue long after the client’s death.
The term “client” therefore for this purpose is not limited to current clients, but also to former clients of the Firm.
All client affairs MUST be kept confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by the law, or unless the client consents to the disclosure.
Any third parties used by the Firm will also be expected to keep all client affairs confidential. Any expert instructed during the progress of your claim (whether a Barrister, Medical Expert, Costs Draftsmen etc..), will automatically find themselves under the same duty of confidentiality. Any non-routine third party instructed by the Firm on your behalf will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure that your information is protected.
Personal Information And How This Is To Be Used
Please be aware that throughout the course of your claim, you will be asked to give some very personal information.
Normally, any personal information and documentary evidence will be retained on file, stored safely in a lockable filing cabinet. Unless you are notified of any other arrangement in place, Mrs Karen Pointon will be the only person with access to this information.
As your claim progresses, your basic personal details and material facts about the accident/ injury will have to be disclosed to the Defendant and their insurers / solicitors as this is vital for the progress and success of the claim.
Once it becomes necessary for us to prove the injuries that you have alleged, we will have to request copies of your medical records from your GP and any Hospital attended as a result of the accident. Rarely will we be able to prove an injury and settle a claim in the absence of this evidence / information.
It is usual to request copies of your GP notes even if you did not visit your GP after your accident. This information will help us to prove that the accident occurred as you have alleged and that it did not occur elsewhere for some other reason.
Normally, the full copy of your records will be requested. Please note that although we will have to read these notes, we are only interested in looking for evidence of the accident, resulting injuries and any similar injuries that may be having an effect upon the injuries that you are trying to claim for. We will not be referring to any unrelated illness or injury and neither are we allowed to report upon the content of your medical records to any third party without your consent.
We will however need to forward copies of your medical records to the independent medical expert chosen to examine you so that he/she is able to examine you properly and prepare an accurate medical report. Again, our chosen medical expert will only be looking for information relevant to the accident and any similar pre-existing injuries / symptoms that may be hindering your recovery from the accident. Please therefore rest assured that any other information contained within your records will be kept strictly confidential.
Please contact us should you wish to discuss any concerns that you may have as regards the contents of / use of your medical records and any other personal information.
As a solicitor, Mrs Karen Pointon is classed as a Data Controller – i.e. an individual who will be processing personal information. The Firm has therefore registered this with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. We will be following the ICO’s specific guidance for keeping all held data secure and for having the right strategy in place for dealing with any security breach, whether through theft, a deliberate technical attack, accidental loss or equipment failure.
This Policy states above that all client information will be kept confidential unless disclosure of such information is required or permitted by the law.
Examples of this could be found within The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 – where the solicitor is under a legal duty to report any suspicious and potential criminal dealings. In this event, the solicitor’s duty to uphold the law may take precedence over the solicitor’s duty to the client to keep his/her affairs confidential.
Further, disclosure of relevant information is required in all personal injury cases. Once legal proceedings have commenced, at a specific stage in the proceedings known as “Standard Disclosure”, each party to the claim will be under a duty to make a list of all information within their possession/ to their knowledge, that may help or hinder their claim. These lists will be exchanged between parties when copies of the documentation listed may be requested. The Protocol for bringing a Personal Injury Claim also encourages early disclosure – i.e. the early exchange of information between parties prior to commencement of Court proceedings in order to narrow the issues and promote discussion, leading hopefully to an early settlement of the claim.
You will be advised of the importance of this during the progress of your claim.
In rare situations, the duty of confidentiality and the duty to disclose may come into conflict with each other.
For example, one client (Client A) may have evidence / information which is material to another client’s claim (Client B),but that which Client Adoes not wish to disclose. In this event, provided the withholding of such evidence is not illegal, the duty of confidentiality to Client Ahas to take precedence. (Ideally this situation will have been identified during routine risk assessments before Client B’scase was accepted to ensure that this situation could be avoided as far as possible).
Special agreements may have to be put into place when acting for more than one client on the same matter – for example, husband and wife.
In rare circumstances, a different standard of disclosure may be possible.
Further, the use of information barriers may be appropriate in certain circumstances – this will be explained to you in full should this apply in your case.
Ending The Agreement To Act For You
We may no longer be able to act for you if we have advised disclosure and you have refused. In very limited circumstances we may be able to put safeguards in place to allow your claim to continue, provided that this does not then place us in a conflict situation with another client, another member of the Firm, or with our own legal responsibilities. This situation will however be extremely rare.