Are E-Mails between Eversheds & Mortgage Co confidential under SARN/DPA ?

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I am in dispute with my Mortgage Company which was Mortgage Services, then HYPO MSL, and now Birmingham Midshires. I have served SARN's on Eversheds, Lewis Silkin and Birmingham Midshires, received replies from Birmingham Midshires complying with DPA, and one from Eversheds stating that communications between them and the mortgage co regarding my case are commercially confidential, and as such they will not be suppliying such documents. Is this correct? I was under the impression that ALL documentation relating to a case was viewable under the DPA.

-- John Booth (sharky_john@hotmail.com), February 28, 2002

Answers

There are a couple of areas that Data Controllers can still claim exemption under;

1, If the communication concerns other people than yourself, then they do not have to provide it to you. Specifically, they should blank out all references to others. But most Data Controllers appear to consider all documents with references to others as being exempt. This in turn is difficult for you to prove that the offending missing document does in fact concern yourself, unless you have been provided with a copy by the company it has been sent to/from. (So why do you need them to provide it?) So itís hard for you to complain to the IC that you have not been provided with all data.

2, If somebody expresses an opinion of you, then they might be entitled to withhold it, or they would be guilty of expressing a libel. This is a bit shallow, but Data Controllers are still claiming that they can't release any documents with an opinion of you.

3, They are allowed to blank out personal references to the author of the document, the address that the document went to, or the address that the document came from. Within reason.

4, There is also the claim of legal privilege as well. If the Data Controller considers the document to be covered by legal privilege then they can exclude it. The exception being that you wish to bring criminal charges, or report the matter to the police. But they would then claim that the police would be provided with a copy of the document if they request it. Solicitors are increasingly using the legal privilege angle to try to withhold everything.

In all instances, if you think that data has been withheld in response to a SARN then contact the Information Commissioners for advice on 01625-545-700. They usually ask you to submit a formal assessment request and they will then investigate. The IC can advise on particular issues and they are the Sun source of knowledge about the DPA.

Good Luck.

-- Harry (pearson_harry@hotmail.com), February 28, 2002.


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