Using solicitors for confidentiality related legal issues


Confidentiality and privacy issues are gaining increasing attention in recent times, particularly with the development of new technologies and their impact upon confidentiality. It is only in certain contexts that the law protects confidentiality; solicitors can help you to understand the laws that apply to the confidentiality issue that you are concerned with.

What does confidentiality mean?

Confidentiality can mean a number of things depending on the context. A confidentiality solicitor is bound by a number of laws that are set out in their code of conduct that gives them guidance on how to handle confidentiality when dealing with their clients.

In many ways, when you speak to your solicitor they must act in much the same way as your doctor. They cannot talk about your case to other parties as this could break your confidentiality.

A confidentiality solicitor can be used to draw up confidentiality contracts between employers and employees. If an employee is dismissed, for instance, there may have been a clause in the employee’s employment terms and conditions that demand they sign a confidentiality agreement before they leave.

In business, a confidentiality solicitor can often be used to create a non-disclosure agreement that all parties must sign. This protects the intellectual property of the companies that are working together. These types of agreement are common in the technology industry. If you need this kind of agreement drawing up, look for a confidentiality solicitor that has experience in these areas.

It is important to fully understand the agreement that a confidentiality solicitor would like you to sign. There are also different types of agreement:

  • Most confidentiality agreements are what are called mutual agreements, whereby all parties are bound by the terms of the agreement
  • However, a unilateral confidentiality agreement can also be used. In these agreements only the person or company signing the agreement is bound by its terms

Data Protection

Different aspects of the law in relation to confidentiality are dealt with by different types of solicitors. Confidentiality in relation to the use of personal information is regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998 which requires businesses and public bodies to pay attention to issues of confidentiality.

Solicitors that advise on the Data Protection Act 1998 will usually be company and commercial solicitors. If you have an issue with how you think a business is dealing with issues of confidentiality, solicitors can help you to negotiate with the business and, if necessary, commence legal action.

You may, for example, think that a business is:

  • Misusing your confidential information
  • Not letting you access information about you where you have made a request for that information

Confidentiality is also regulated in relation to your dealings with professionals such as doctors and solicitors. Confidentiality is a requirement under the Solicitors Code of Conduct and a breach of this rule can result in serious action being taken against the solicitors by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Law Society. Other professional bodies regulate breach of confidentiality issues concerning their members.

With intellectual property being some of the most precious resources many businesses contain, confidentiality solicitors are increasingly being asked to design confidentiality agreements for employees. You should always check any agreement before you sign it. Your trade union, if you are a member, can help you. Contacting a local business solicitor is essential to ensure you fully understand the agreement you are signing.

For more advice on your privacy rights, see our information page on the Data Protection Act.

Do you have a legal issue relating to confidentiality or privacy? Do you feel that these have been breached and you wish to pursue legal recourse? Caven can put you in touch with a specialist privacy lawyer who deals primarily in breach of confidentiality claims. Please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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