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Successful claim against DWP for breach of data protection duties

Stuart
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An example of the DWP accepting responsibility for its failures … the background to the claimant’s High Court challenges - SW v DWP [2018] EWHC 1998 (QB) (30 July 2018) and SW v DWP No 2 [2018] EWHC 2282 (QB) (14 September 2018)  - was that following his DLA claim, the DWP disclosed details of his disabilities to his employer to check their accuracy. This caused significant problems for the claimant and he made claims for -

‘... breach of confidence, misuse of private information, breach of duty under the Data Protection Act 1998, and breach of the Human Rights Act 1998. The DWP made a [CPR] Part 36 offer, which was accepted by the applicant on 12 February 2018.’

The DWP agreed to settle, including in its agreement an acknowledgement that -

‘…the disclosure of the claimant’s personal information to third parties in a fact-finding investigation was and is entirely improper.’

NB - the two High Court cases concern the claimant’s request to remain anonymous in the making of a ‘statement in open court’, which was refused in the second case.

 

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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So in a case concerning DWP breaching the confidentiality of a claimant and causing them significant problems and the DWP has accepted this breach and settled, the Judge in second judgment is saying I’m going to reveal the identity of the claimant after 21 days anyway in the interests of justice…or am I missing something?

Stuart
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That’s as I understand it. but not that up on how statements in open court operate…

Elliot Kent
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So he made a claim against the DWP for breach of privacy and they settled. That probably ought to have been the end of it.

He then said that he would like the DWP to make a “Statement In Open Court” acknowledging that they had wronged him - but he wanted them to do that whilst he remained anonymous (which might be thought something of a contradiction in terms). But he wanted it anyway and so he went off to Court and lost.

The default in litigation is then that the parties should be named unless there are good reasons not to name them. This is because the Courts are an inherently public forum (the same is true of benefit Tribunals incidentally) and “open justice” requires the public to have an idea as to what is going on in them. In this case the Judge is not convinced that there is any good reason to anonymise him and so the default applies.

The Judge appears to be content that there is nothing in either judgment which would have any particularly adverse impact on him.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Elliot Kent - 18 September 2018 10:26 AM

So he made a claim against the DWP for breach of privacy and they settled. That probably ought to have been the end of it.

He then said that he would like the DWP to make a “Statement In Open Court” acknowledging that they had wronged him - but he wanted them to do that whilst he remained anonymous (which might be thought something of a contradiction in terms). But he wanted it anyway and so he went off to Court and lost.

The default in litigation is then that the parties should be named unless there are good reasons not to name them. This is because the Courts are an inherently public forum (the same is true of benefit Tribunals incidentally) and “open justice” requires the public to have an idea as to what is going on in them. In this case the Judge is not convinced that there is any good reason to anonymise him and so the default applies.

The Judge appears to be content that there is nothing in either judgment which would have any particularly adverse impact on him.

Ah, that makes a bit more sense, thanks Elliot. So he wanted DWP to publically admit they’d wronged him but didn’t want his name mentioned? That’s backfired a bit then…..

ClairemHodgson
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 18 September 2018 10:01 AM

So in a case concerning DWP breaching the confidentiality of a claimant and causing them significant problems and the DWP has accepted this breach and settled, the Judge in second judgment is saying I’m going to reveal the identity of the claimant after 21 days anyway in the interests of justice…or am I missing something?

yes, but the judge isn’t going to be telling the world what was wrong with the man, which was DWP’s breach (they told employers about his health issues when they shouldn’t have). 

whilst i can see that a claimant would want DWP to publicly admit its failings to warn others (and encourage DWP to train its staff properly) he’s probably taken it too far