With new European Union legislation on its way, on the 25th of May, businesses will be saying goodbye to the Data Protection Act and will welcome the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Even though Britain has decided to leave the EU, this is a piece of legislation that the British government will be adopting after Brexit. It’s important for those operating in the legal sector to have a clear understanding of what GDPR is, how it could impact them and what they can do to prepare for it.
The impact of GDPR in the legal sector
Many have become accustomed to the Data Protection Act, but GDPR is something that has been in the pipeline for four years. Only getting the go-ahead in 2016, it sets to create a framework that will determine how data is currently used, as the amount of data we handle continues to grow with the advancements in technology. When this piece of legislation was announced, it was said that it would only impact huge organisations like Google, Facebook and Twitter — but this isn’t the case.
The Data Protection Act 1998 has proven useful, especially with the digital changes in the world, but this piece of legislation will be removed after GDPR is implemented.
Law firms are controllers and processors of their clients’ data, meaning it is crucial for them to abide by the rules. If businesses do not comply with this new legislation, they can face significant penalties — an example of this would be a monetary penalty of 4% of turnover, something that all firms will wish to avoid.
It’s vital for anyone working in the legal sector to understand the impact GDPR will have on their business and it’s time to start preparing early for the changes rather than later.
This is one of the main reasons why law firms need to prepare themselves for the changes now rather than later — for their own protection and the protection of their clients.
As those working in the legal sector deal with a lot of personal data, for both clients and those involved in the case, GDPR makes it a simpler process for individuals to be compensated if GDPR is not withheld within a law firm. This means that law firms should reassess their security policies and update any security systems they have in place to ensure the risk of any data breach is minimised.
Making a law firm GDPR-ready
With the implementation date looming closer, there are a few ways that law firms can prepare for the process. This all starts with acknowledging the legislation — even though the UK plans to leave the European Union, this doesn’t mean that firms should ignore the fact that the UK will still be in the EU when this legislation is introduced and that GDPR will likely be adopted by the British government after Brexit.
>See also: The winding road to GDPR compliance
To gain a greater insight, personal injury experts, TRUE Solicitors LLP have explained to Information Age how to ensure GDPR-readiness.
To ensure that you are complying with GDPR, look at your current data protection measures and make the appropriate changes that are needed for when May 25th arrives – you don’t want to be prone to any data breach.
Look at the new framework, and question whether your current contracts and policies are in line. If you have a third party that helps monitor your data, you need to make sure you outline what they can and can’t do with it.
Also inform them that they must notify you immediately of any suspicion of data breaches. Update your staff data protection policies to meet new requirements, too.
There are certain organisations that must have a designated data protection officer under the legislation, however even if you do not require one under the regulations you should consider whether your firm should have one in any event in order to protect the company and its clients.
Sourced by TRUE Solicitors LLP