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  6. Do I have to respond to a subject access request even though I am exercising a lien over the papers?

Do I have to respond to a subject access request even though I am exercising a lien over the papers?

My client is unhappy about our service and wants his papers transferred to another firm. He refuses to discuss the outstanding bill of costs and has now sent me a subject access request. Do I have to respond to the request as I am exercising a lien?

Yes. A lien does not affect a client’s rights under the Data Protection Act so the subject access request must still be complied with in these circumstances. However, only 'personal data' on the file must be provided to the client. Anything on the file which is not the client’s personal data need not be provided. 

Personal data means data which relates to a living individual who can be identified: 

- from those data, or

- from those data and other information which is in your possession, or is likely to come into your possession, and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of your intentions or those of any other person in respect of the individual.

For further information, please see the Law Society’s practice note on data protection

Have you got a practice question? Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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