Privacy Policy


Michael Smith & Co Solicitors Privacy Notice

 

Privacy Notice,

This notice explains when and why we collect personal information about you; how we use it, the conditions under which we may disclose it to others and how we keep it secure.

For clients of this firm, you should read this notice alongside our general terms and conditions which provide further information on confidentiality, data privacy etc.

This notice does not apply to any websites that may have a link to ours.

Who we are

Data is collected, processed and stored by Michael Smith & Co Solicitors; and we are what is known as the ‘data controller’ of the personal information you provide to us.

Michael Smith & Co Solicitors is a partnership, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 622582.

Michael Smith & Co Solicitors is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office under registration reference Z9572986. Our Data Protection Officer is Sue Maxfield who can be contacted by email at sue@msandcosolicitors.co.uk

Children

Our website and services are not aimed specifically at children because in legal work children are generally represented by their parent or guardians. If you are a child and need further advice or explanation about how we would use your data, please email sue@msandcosolicitors.co.uk

What we need

The exact information we will request from you will depend on what you have asked us to do or what we are contracted to do for you. This notice is intended for clients and prospective clients only.

Under the  General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (GDPR) there are two types of personal data (personal information) that you may provide to us:

  • Personal data: is the general information that you supply about yourself – such as your name, address, gender, date of birth & contact details.
  • Special Categories: is, by its nature, more sensitive information and may include your racial or ethnic origin, religion, health or criminal convictions.

In the majority of cases personal data will be restricted to basic information and information needed to complete ID checks. However some of the work we do may require us to ask for more sensitive information.

Sources of information

Information about you may be obtained from a number of sources; including:

  • You may volunteer the information about yourself
  • You may provide information relating to someone else – if you have the authority to do so
  • Information may be passed to us by third parties in order that we can undertake your legal work on your behalf. Typically these organisations can be:
  • Banks or building societies
  • Panel providers who allocate legal work to law firms
  • Organisations that have referred work to us
  • Medical or financial institutions – who provide your personal records / information

Why we need it

The primary reason for asking you to provide us with your personal data, is to allow us to carry out your requests – which will ordinarily be to represent you and carry out your legal work.

The following are some examples, although not exhaustive, of what we may use your information for:

  • Verifying your identity
  • Verifying source of funds
  • Communicating with you
  • To establish funding of your matter or transaction
  • Obtaining insurance policies on your behalf
  • Processing your legal transaction including:

Providing you with advice; carrying out litigation on your behalf; attending hearings on your behalf; preparing documents or to complete transactions

  • Keeping financial records of your transactions and the transactions we make on your behalf
  • Seeking advice from third parties; such as legal and non-legal experts
  • Responding to any complaint or allegation of negligence against us

Who has access to it

We have a data protection regime in place to oversee the effective and secure processing of your personal data. We will not sell or rent your information to third parties. We will not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes.

Generally, we will only use your information within Michael Smith & Co Solicitors. However there may be circumstances, in carrying out your legal work, where we may need to disclose some information to third parties; for example:

  • HM Land Registry to register a property
  • HM Revenue & Customs; e.g. for Stamp Duty Liability
  • Court or Tribunal
  • Solicitors acting on the other side
  • Asking an independent Barrister or Counsel for advice; or to represent you
  • Non legal experts to obtain advice or assistance
  • Translation Agencies
  • Contracted Suppliers
  • External auditors or our Regulator; e.g. Lexcel, SRA, ICO etc.
  • Bank or Building Society; or other financial institutions
  • Insurance Companies
  • Providers of identity verification
  • Any disclosure required by law or regulation; such as the prevention of financial crime and terrorism
  • If there is an emergency and we think you or others are at risk

In the event any of your information is shared with the aforementioned third parties, we ensure that they comply, strictly and confidentially, with our instructions and they do not use your personal information for their own purposes unless you have explicitly consented to them doing so.

There may be some uses of personal data that may require your specific consent. If this is the case we will contact you separately to ask for your consent which you are free to withdraw at any time.

How do we protect your personal data

We recognise that your information is valuable and we take all reasonable measures to protect it whilst it is in our care.

We have high standards of technology and operational security in order to protect personally identifiable data from loss, misuse, alteration or destruction. Similarly, we adopt a high threshold when it comes to confidentiality obligations and both internal and external parties have agreed to protect confidentiality of all information; to ensure all personal data is handled and processed in line with our stringent confidentiality and data protection policies.

We use computer safeguards such as firewalls and data encryption and annual penetration testing; and we enforce, where possible, physical access controls to our buildings and files to keep data safe.

How long will we keep it for

Your personal information will be retained, usually in computer or manual files, only for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes for which the information was collected; or as required by law; or as long as is set out in any relevant contract you may hold with us. For example:

  • As long as necessary to carry out your legal work
  • For a minimum of 7 years from the conclusion or closure of your legal work; in the event that you, or we, need to re-open your case for the purpose of defending complaints or claims against us
  • For the duration of a trust
  • Some information or matters may be kept for 16 years – such as commercial transactions, sales of leasehold purchases, matrimonial matters (financial orders or maintenance agreements etc.)

Probate matters where there is a surviving spouse or civil partner may be retained until the survivor has died in order to deal with the transferable Inheritance Tax allowance

  • Wills and related documents may be kept indefinitely
  • Deeds related to unregistered property may be kept indefinitely as they evidence ownership
  • Personal injury matters which involve lifetime awards or PI Trusts may be kept indefinitely

How we collect personal data

The following are examples, although not exhaustive, of how we collect your personal information:

  • Sign-up to receive one of our newsletters
  • Submitting an online enquiry
  • Following/liking/subscribing to our social media channels
  • Take part in one of the competitions or promotions we run on the website or on our social media channels
  • Agree to fill in a questionnaire or survey on our website
  • Ask us a question or submit any queries or concerns you have via email or on social media channels
  • Post information to the our website or social media channels, for example when we offer the option for you to comment on, or join, discussions
  • When you leave a review about us on Google Reviews

Whenever we collect your personal data, you will be provided the opportunity to ‘opt in’ to receiving marketing communications from us. We hope you will provide this information so you find our communications useful but if you choose not to this will have no effect on accessing our legal services.

Information we receive from other sources

  • we may receive information from third parties, such as estate agents, your financial or tax advisor, another financial services provider such as pension provider or insurance company, health professional or your employer
  • we may receive information from companies we use to verify your identity and/or to prevent fraud such as credit reference agencies (please note that such companies may record the details of the search) including the electoral register and credit information, in accordance with our legal obligations
  • we may also receive information from third parties who contact us such as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) or the police or other government agencies
  • we may obtain personal data from  public sources such as Companies House

Your personal data may be stored in different places, including within our IT systems and our Data Processor’s systems, on our premises and within our storage facilities.

How we may use your details

The following are examples, although not exhaustive, of how we may use your personal information for our legitimate business interests:

  • fraud prevention
  • direct marketing
  • network and information systems security
  • data /analytics /enhancing, modifying or improving our services
  • identifying usage trends
  • determining the effectiveness of promotional campaigns and advertising.

We may use your personal information for legitimate interests such as direct marketing or under reasonable expectation to provide you with information you would expect to receive or that would benefit and enhance our relationship. This information will help us review and improve our products, services and offers.

You have the right to object to this processing. Should you wish to do so please email reception@msandcosolicitors.co.uk

Marketing data

We may contact you for the purpose of direct marketing. This means that we may use your personal data that we have collected in accordance with this privacy policy to contact you about our products or services, events etc. which we feel may interest you. The direct marketing communications may be provided to you by social media channels, email or post. We will never send marketing communications via SMS or call you without your specific consent; nor do we ever pass on or sell your details to a third party.

If you do not wish us to continue to contact you in this way, you can either follow the unsubscribe instructions on any of our communications to you or contact us by emailing reception@msandcosolicitors.co.uk with your name and email address. Your details will be removed immediately. Once unsubscribed, you may still receive transactional emails from us regarding your legal case.

Transferring personal data outside the European Economic Area

Michael Smith & Co may on occasion transfer your personal data to countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Where there is an adequacy decision by the European Commission in respect of those countries. This means that the countries to which we transfer your personal data are deemed to provide an adequate level of protection for your personal data.

We will take the appropriate steps required by applicable data protection laws to ensure your personal data is protected by either

  • putting in place standard contractual obligations to ensure your personal data is treated consistently with EEA and UK data protection and/or
  • ensuring the third party is part of the US Privacy Shield requiring it to apply similarly appropriate safeguards where data is transferred to the USA

What are your rights?

Under GDPR as a Data Subject, you have a number of statutory rights. Subject to specific conditions, and in certain circumstances, you have the right to:

  • receive a copy of the personal data we hold about you
  • request rectification of your personal data
  • request the erasure of your personal data
  • restrict the processing of your personal data
  • object to the processing of your personal data
  • request the transfer of your personal data to another party

If you wish to make a request, please do so in writing addressed to our Data Protection Officer Sue Maxfield; or contact the person dealing with your matter.

A request for access to your personal data means you are entitled to a copy of the data we hold on you – such as your name, address, contact details, date of birth, information regarding your health etc. This means that a Subject Access Request will not normally result in you getting a copy of your file because you are only entitled to your personal data – not the documents that contain that data.

Complaints about the use of personal data

If you wish to raise a complaint on how we have handled your personal data, you can contact our Data Protection Officer who will investigate further. Our Data Protection Officer is Sue Maxfield and you can contact them at sue@msandcosolicitors.co.uk

If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are not processing your personal data in accordance with the law, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

If you choose not to provide or update personal data

If you do not provide certain information requested we may not be able to provide you with Michael Smith & Co products or services and we may not be able to comply with our legal obligations, such as verifying your identity and complying with anti-fraud and anti-money laundering rules.

It is important that the personal data we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal data changes.

Please note that we may process your personal data without your knowledge or consent where this is required or permitted by law.

Change of purpose

We will only use your personal data for the purposes for which we collect and retain it. If we need to use your personal data for a purpose other than that for which it was collected, we will provide you with information about the new purpose prior to that further processing. You may request the legal basis which allows us to process your personal data for the new purpose at any time.

How do we collect your personal data?

We may collect personal data about you in a variety of ways. This may include data collected during our work, or proposed work for you, either directly from you or sometimes from an Introducer or other Data Subject such as an employer or business partner. We may also collect personal data from other external third parties, such as references from former advisers, information from background checks and identity check providers, information from credit reference agencies and information from Companies House.

You may choose to provide us with your personal data

  • corresponding with us by telephone, email, letter or other means
  • applying for a product or service
  • by submitting a request vis the ‘Contact us’ facility on our website for us to contact you
  • by participating in feedback or surveys

Changes to this Privacy Notice

Michael Smith & Co reserves the right to update or amend this Privacy Notice at any time. We will publish a new Privacy Notice when we make significant updates or amendments.

Any questions regarding this notice and our privacy practices should be sent by email to sue@msandcosolicitors.co.uk

 

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