Legal and Privacy

This document explains 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. It sets out your rights in respect of our processing of your personal information and how you can request that we delete, update, transfer and/or provide you with access to it. This Privacy Policy ensures we are transparent in our relationship to you and to assist in making informed decisions.

Personal Data

Personal data is information concerning your identity. It includes your name, address, gender, date of birth, contact details and ID documents.

We mainly process personal data required to complete identification checks and deliver accurate and informed advice and / or ongoing support under the terms of our retainer and/or instructed by you.

Please note the provision of personal data is a statutory and contractual requirement and/or required for the purpose of entering into a contract.

Failure to provide such data will mean we are unable to give you informed and accurate advice and cannot provide a professional, quality legal and/or family mediation service to you.

Sensitive Data

Sensitive personal data includes your racial or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, political opinions, health data, trade union membership, biometric and genetic data.

To fulfil our legal obligations, we may be, on occasion, obliged to collect sensitive personal data. We will only request sensitive information where necessary and permitted by law and put in place specific safeguards to protect sensitive information. We practice the principle of storage limitation: only keeping data for the shortest time as required by law or for the duration of our services to you.

Why we need your data

We minimise the data we collect about you and ensure that what we do collect is for specific purposes. We collect personal information from you to deliver our legal and family mediation service in accordance with our retainer as contracted with you and requested by you. We will not use it for any other purpose unless legally obliged to in a specific circumstance, such as to protect your vital interests.

Some examples of how we may use your personal information include:

  • Verifying identity
  • To provide legal advice, conduct family mediations or family arbitrations
  • To communicate with you and book appointments
  • Improve and develop our services
  • Meet your requirements for our services
  • Investigate complaints and claims
  • Answer enquiries
  • Fulfil and comply with our legal obligations
  • Invoicing
  • Carry out agreements to act in accordance with your instructions
  • To safeguard the rights of third parties
  • Seeking professional advice from third parties
  • Processing your legal instructions
  • Attending meetings and court hearings
  • Financial record-keeping

Direct Marketing and Consent

At present we engage in no direct marketing and no information is collected for this purpose. Should this change, this privacy policy will be amended and you will be informed. Your active consent will be sought for any direct marketing.

Protecting your data

We take your privacy and security seriously and follow strict processes and regulations to respect your confidentiality. We ensure data security by having an electronic data security policy, safe haven policy, business continuity plan and data sharing policy, all of which are reviewed and updated twice a year. We have taken technical measures to protect your data, which are reviewed and updated regularly. These measures prevent unauthorised access, destruction, modification or data loss.

Your rights:

You can contact us at any stage during or after our work together to exercise your right to access your data. Our contact details are set out above.

Right of Rectification

You may request rectification of your data. This means you can have inaccurate personal data rectified, or completed if it contains gaps. Please contact us on any method outlined above to exercise this right.

Right of Erasure

You may request erasure of your personal data. You also have a right to withdraw consent at any point where consent is used as a lawful basis for processing.

Please contact us on any method outlined above to exercise this right.

Right to Restrict Processing

You can restrict the processing of your data to specific purposes, suspend processing or suppress your data. Please contact us on any method outlined in above to exercise this right.

Right to Data Portability

You also have a right to data portability, which allows you to instruct us to transmit your personal data to another legal professional where it is technically feasible to do so. This right is to enhance your consumer rights. Please contact us on any method outlined above to exercise this right.

Right to Object

You also have a right to object to certain types of processing. This means you can ask us to stop processing your data. Please note that the right to object only applies in certain circumstances. Please contact us on any method outlined above for more information or to exercise this right.

Right to be Informed

To fulfill the principal of transparency, you have the right to be informed about the collection, use and any change of use of your personal data. Please contact us on any method outlined above for more information or to exercise this right.

Please note: we do not engage in any automated decision-making including profiling.

You can find out more about your Rights around Data Usage at the Information Commissioner’s Office website at: https://ico.org.uk.

How we use your information

The following table gives examples of how we may use your information to meet our contractual and legal obligations. It also shows the lawful basis for processing your data and the purpose for the processing.

The first principle of the General Data Protection Regulation requires that we process all personal data lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. Processing is only lawful if we have a Lawful Basis, which is demonstrated in the table below.

Processing Activity

Intended purposes for processing the personal data (examples)

Lawful Basis for the processing

Legal, Family Mediation and Family Arbitration professional service delivery

It is an essential requirement for us to process your data to perform our obligations in accordance with any contract we have with you.

Without such data we are unable to

advise or support you. We could not deliver ongoing and informed advice, support and assistance.

Please note also that our Terms of Business apply when we provide services to you.

Legitimate interests – we use your personal information to ensure that we are providing the very best client service we can to you, as instructed by you.

We are able to stop processing your data at your request.

Contract - The processing is necessary for us to fulfil our obligation in respect of a contract we have with you.

This constitutes our Terms of Business, Retainer letter and in Family Mediation cases, the Agreement to Mediate.

Legal obligation - The processing is necessary for us in order to comply with the law.

Client services

In order to communicate with and contact you, arrange meetings, invoice and update you we require contact information. This will be requested together with details of other relevant personal information, so as to allow us to respond to your instructions or enquiry.

Personal information about you is used to fulfil your requests and deliver the highest quality service, tailored to you and best informed as to your particular needs.

Legitimate interests – the processing is necessary for our legitimate interests in order to deliver a professional service as requested by you, keep you informed, provide the best possible guidance and advice and communicate as you would expect from us.

Contract – The processing is necessary for us to fulfil our obligations in respect of a contract with you. Please note we also undertake processing necessary in order to take steps at your request prior to entering into a contract.

Business administration and legal compliance

An identification check is legally required to verify your identity.

Our Terms of Business state the maximum funds we are willing to receive

Data processing is required to comply with legal obligations, in upholding our legal rights and/or to protect the rights of third parties.

Contract - The processing is necessary for us in performance of any contract we have with you.

Legitimate Interests - to enforce our legal rights, or to protect the rights of third parties.

Legal obligation - we must use your personal information to comply with any legal obligations imposed upon us.

Email communication and consent

We require you to complete an email consent form should you wish to communicate with us by email. This is to ensure information is kept secure and delivered to the correct place. We may use email for such purposes as enquiries and requests for information about our firm and services, send invoices, supply or request information, arrange meetings, supply you with updates, send and agree to contracts, clarifications and advice, transfer relevant documents.

Consent is the legal basis. You have the right to withdraw you consent at any time.

To fulfill legal obligations

We may have to share information as part of a legal requirement. This may be in the course of our legal and professional services or as otherwise, in order to comply with UK Law.

Legal Obligations

To safeguard life and wellbeing (to protect your vital interests or that of another)

This would be to protect or safeguard your or another’s life. This may include such instances as disclosure of your personal information to medical staff in the event of an emergency.

Vital interests - the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life

Third parties and new processes

If we were to use your data for a new process we undertake a compatibility assessment to check the fair and proportionate new use for data processing if and when necessary.

We also have a Data Communications with Third Parties Policy and Register.

Should we wish to communicate with a third party regarding your contract or instructions to us, your consent will be sought before sharing your information.

Legitimate interests - these uses are proportionate, and compatible with your interests, legal rights or freedoms.

Should be need to share your information with a third party, your consent will be sought. The legal basis will thus be consent.


Data Retention

Your personal information will be retained only for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes for which the information was collected. Otherwise the data retention period will be as required by law or as long as is set out in any relevant contract with us.

Decisions on data retention periods will take into account:

  • The length of time necessary to carry out your legal work - We will keep your information whilst we work on your case.
  • Our business obligations - For a minimum of 7 years from the conclusion or closure of your legal work in order to investigate any subsequent claims or complaints.
  • Legal Obligations - Some information or matters may be kept for 16 years, such as commercial transactions, sales of leasehold purchases, matrimonial matters. Other documents are required to be kept indefinitely including probate documents and files, wills and related documents and deeds related to unregistered property. However, we will endeavour to contact and update our records regularly to ensure the information is contemporaneous and accurate.

Information Sharing with Third Parties

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution will not share information with third parties without either your prior documented approval being obtained, or there is a legal requirement, or to protect your vital interests. Where it is deemed appropriate to share information it will be imparted in strict professional confidence and for a specific purpose. 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 and we do not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes.

Examples of Third Parties

Please note this list is not all-inclusive and there may be other Third Parties with whom we are required to share data in order to provide a professional and high quality service to you. In each instance the third party must act confidentially and use your personal information for a specific purpose unless you explicitly consent.

  • Legal disclosures such as the prevention of serious crime or terrorism (e.g. PREVENT Duty, Child Protection Legislation)
  • If there is an emergency to prevent serious harm to yourself or another
  • HM Land Registry, Government or regulatory authorities, HM Revenue & Customs
  • Independent Barrister or Counsel
  • Non-legal experts to obtain advice or assistance (e.g. Independent Financial Advisors, tax advisors)
  • Counsel, opposing party and lawyers, arbitrators, mediators, cost draftsmen, clerks, court, tribunal, translators, witnesses
  • Insurance companies (including Professional Indemnity Insurance)
  • External auditors, Regulators, Tax authorities and corporate registries.
  • IT system and IT support services, document and information storage providers, suppliers
  • Banks and financial institutions

New forms of processing

Our purposes for processing your data are established from the start of all business. We have a policy on Purpose Limitation and will only use personal data for a new purpose in certain instances. This will be subject to a process and documented to ensure that a condition for new processing is met: if this is compatible with our original purpose; upon obtaining specific consent; or should there be a clear basis in law.

Children and Data Protection

Both our services and our website are not aimed at children, we would never receive instructions from a child.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

We regularly review our processing and, where necessary, update our documentation and our privacy information. This takes place at least every six months, or in the event of new business practice or legislative changes. We will notify you of any significant changes but it is advisable for you to review our Privacy Policy periodically to be informed as to your rights and how we use your personal information. If we plan to use personal data for a new purpose, we establish that this is compatible with our original purpose or obtain specific consent for the new purpose.

How to complain

Please do contact us if you do have any queries about this policy.

If we are unable to resolve your query and you still feel there is a problem with the way we are handling your data you have a right to refer your concern to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

For further details about your privacy rights under GDPR (including their limitations), please see the ICO website https://ico.org.uk.

We are registered with the ICO Number: ZA215382.

We are happy to answer any queries or concerns you may have about our privacy notice and will provide it in a different format if required.

Privacy & Website Cookies

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution only process your personal data in accordance with our privacy notice, which is available upon request.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution respect your privacy. Accordingly, we do not sell, rent, share or loan any identifiable information regarding website visitors to any third party without obtaining your consent to do so. Any information that you give to us is held with respectful care and security in line with our data protection policies. It will not be used in ways to which you have not consented.

Your personal data is protected in the United Kingdom by the Data Protection Act and GDPR. Any information held is kept updated, not retained for longer than is necessary and you have a right to view the data we hold about you and correct any inaccuracies. You have the right to request we delete any information about you which we hold.

We keep your data securely to prevent unauthorised access.

Cookies

Cookies are small pieces of text that are stored in your browser. Kent and Surrey Family Resolution's website uses cookies to improve website functionality. We use the information to help our website work as well as possible for you and improve our services.

They can be read by our services and third parties and that you consent to us using. After a specified amount of time the cookie is removed by the browser.

You can find out more about cookies at this link:

https://cookiepedia.co.uk/giving-consent-to-cookies

Website Disclaimer

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution's website is to help our clients and in intended to provide some initial general information for the public. It explains our services, shares our contact details, and is intended to increase understanding and help prospective clients make choices, including establishing how we can meet our clients’ needs.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution's website is for viewing and retrieving information on our family law, family mediation and family arbitration services.

We do our utmost to check that all information on this website is accurate and updated and comprehensive but we do not guarantee this.

Nothing contained on our website is intended to be a substitute for seeking formal legal advice and it should not be relied upon as such.

When using the website, you should use your own anti-virus protection software. We do cannot accept liability for damages resulting from virus infection.  We make efforts to ensure, but cannot guarantee, that our website will be secure or free from viruses or bugs but you are responsible for configuring your own computer hardware and software to access the website safely and securely.  You must not misuse the website by knowingly introducing viruses, trojan horses, worms, logic bombs or any other malicious material that is harmful technologically or in any other way and in the event that anyone may do so we reserve the right to claim damages for any consequential loss.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution accepts no liability for any loss of profit or contracts, loss of business or goodwill, loss of income or revenue, business interruption or loss of business opportunity in consequence of your using our website.

Copyright issues

The contents of this website belong to Kent and Surrey Family Resolution.

Intellectual property (including names, trademarks and logos) belonging to other bodies appearing on the site are to be respected and may not be used without the consent of the intellectual property owners.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution endorse all copyright and trademarks being upheld.

Links to other websites

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution's website contains links to some external websites but we do not endorse any of these linked websites and they are intended for helpful guidance only.

We do not assume responsibility for the content of linked websites, or broken links. We have no control over and accept no responsibility for the content of linked websites.

We do not guarantee that information accessible via external website links is accurate, complete or current. The fact that a business, company, body or service appears on this website does not amount to an endorsement or approval.

Privacy

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution only process your personal data in accordance with our privacy notice, which is available upon written request.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution respect your privacy. Accordingly, we do not sell, rent, share or loan any identifiable information regarding website visitors to any third party without obtaining your prior written consent to do so.

Any information that you give to us is held with respectful care and security in line with our data protection policies. It will not be used in ways to which you have not consented.

Your personal data is protected in the United Kingdom by the Data Protection Act and GDPR. Any information held is kept updated, not retained for longer than is necessary and you have a right to view the data we hold about you and correct any inaccuracies.

You have the right to request that we delete any information about you which we hold subject to our obligation to retain date for regulatory and insurance purposes.

We keep your data securely to prevent unauthorised access.

Cookies

Cookies are small pieces of text that are stored in your browser.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution's website uses cookies in order to assess and improve website functionality. We use the information to help our website work as well as possible and improve our services.

They can be read by our services and third parties that you consent to us using.

After a specified amount of time the cookie is removed by the browser.

You can find out more about cookies at this link:

https://cookiepedia.co.uk/giving-consent-to-cookies

Diversity and Accessibility

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution aim to ensure that all clients have equal access to our services. We aim for all clients to find it easy to communicate with us. Our inclusive approach means we look to engage with clients as individuals, recognising that we are all different and may have different needs. This applies to everyone.

If you have a disability, health problem or mental health issue, we can help you by making reasonable adjustments, which can remove or reduce barriers you might face.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you need us to make adjustments for you. You can let us know how we can help best.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution will try to find a way to remove or reduce any disadvantage because of your disability, health problem or mental health issue.

The nature of any adjustments depends on your individual needs, for example:

  • Allowing more time (we will tell you if we cannot extend a time limit set by law)
  • Offering you an alternative to using online services such as telephone.
  • Allowing you to have someone with you for an appointment
  • Using your preferred way of communication: by email, telephone or in person (dependent on any lockdown government restrictions)
  • Providing information in alternative formats

We will not be able to agree to an adjustment that fundamentally changes our responsibilities or duties.

Increasing diversity

We comply with approved regulators, such as the SRA and the Law Society and the Family Resolution Code of Conduct in ensuring that a comprehensive evidence base about the diversity characteristics of the legal professions is available.

We carry out a survey, updated upon a change in personnel, collecting anonymised diversity data on Kent and Surrey Family Resolution's workforce.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution aim to integrate diversity and inclusion into our work and our organisation’s culture as the heart of the work we do.

This is in addition to statutory obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

Our aims include:

  • Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
  • Advancing equality of opportunity between people who share protected characteristics. These include: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.
  • Fostering good relations between people who share protected characteristics and those who do not.
  • Continuing professional development and new services to reflect the needs of individual clients.

We recognise a diverse population of clients requires a diverse legal profession.

Covid-19 pandemic

The Legal Services Board 2020 report reflected on the impacts of Covid-19 and associated lockdowns.

It states that the impact has included making 'existing social inequality starker’.

The need for services that meet the needs of society is 'more urgent'.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution is offering videoconferencing and telephone appointments in order to widen accessibility, although we recognise the skills and technology required are not present for all clients and we continue to look for and work towards adaptable and accessible solutions.

You can read more about this topic at the Legal Services Board through think link.

Data Retention & Records Management

This Record Retention Schedule supplements our Data Protection Policy, Electronic Information Security Policy and our Privacy Notice.  It sets out the time period that Client records are retained for business and/or legal purposes. As such, retention periods are based on business needs and legal requirements.

In line with the Data Protection Policy and GDPR Principles, data is only kept for the time required to do. We do not keep any personal data longer than necessary. We do acknowledge that this will be dependent on the different types of documents and data that we have responsibility for, to fulfil our client care obligations and legal requirements.

A client may request erasure or to be forgotten. See: Right of Erasure Policy.

This data retention policy will be reviewed in the event of new types of data being collected, changing legislation, or every year, whichever is the soonest.

Personal data must be disposed of in a way that protects the “rights and freedoms” of data subjects (shredding, disposal as confidential waste, secure electronic deletion).

Please note: This is a guideline only.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution note that it will be necessary, on occasion, to store archived client files for longer periods. Destruction of records will be suspended if it becomes apparent that there is any possibility of anticipated litigation or regulatory investigation; or in the event of a file involving a high value or complex transaction. This will also be applicable in the case of litigation, or where the nature of the client transaction would suggest that a file should be kept for longer than the standard period. We note the advice from our insurers: that it is of paramount importance is access to a file in the event of a claim being made or a notifiable circumstance arising.

Data storage and security

Data is stored securely and respecting client privacy as documented in our 13.0.0 Data Protection Policy and 9.3.0 Electronic Information Security Policy.

Special Category Data

Special category data is personal data that needs more protection because it is sensitive. This type of data will be deleted after the conclusion of the matter, unless specifically required. We are highly unlikely to process special category data.

Identification Documents copies

May be retained with consent for use in subsequent matters as required/requested by the client.

Special Arrangements for matters involving Infants and Family Matters

The destruction date period should run 7 years from the infant’s 18th birthday. Data on legal matters related to children may be kept if necessary to re-open the matter in the future. Family matters involving data such as applications and court orders may be retained for longer in case of the need to re-visit the case.

Anti-Money Laundering Regulations (2007)

Statutory requirements govern how long documents relating to customer due diligence are to be kept. Regulation 19 of The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 requires records to be retained for five years. However, as suggested as best practice by insurers the relevant records will be retained for however long the files that the records relate to are to be kept. Documents containing client's tax or VAT affairs must be retained for at least the relevant statutory prescribed period.

Private Client Files

Will files are initially allocated a destruction date for the year 3000 to ensure they are not destroyed. On their retrieval, they are allocated a destruction date 12 years from the client’s death to coincide with the destruction of the probate file where applicable.

Ongoing Trust files will not be archived but will be “archived in part.” Signed accounts on Trust files are kept for 40 years.

Client Records and Matter Files

The minimum period that any file should be kept for is six years, the primary limitation period under the Limitation Act 1980. We retain for a minimum of seven years, taking into account the four-month period during which a claim form issued on the last day of the limitation period remains valid for service and for any extensions for service which may be granted by the court.

Some of our client files are retained for 15 years. This reflects the longstop under section 14B of the Limitation Act 1980, as there is a greater likelihood of claims in these fields being made outside the primary limitation period.

Some files are required to be retained indefinitely.

Any deviations from the retention periods in this Schedule are documented.

Document Title

How long to retain (years)

Client matter files

Default 7 years unless specified

Inheritance Claim

7

Children

15 or 7 years from 18th birthday of youngest child

Change of Name

Indefinitely

Family Matters (financial orders, maintenance)

15

Probate - life interests

Indefinitely (review at death)

Probate

15

Children Private Law

15

Children Public Law

15

Divorce/Judicial Separation

15

Wills/codicils

See above* Indefinitely (review at death)

Administration of Estate

Indefinitely

Trusts

Indefinitely (review when trust ends)

Power of Attorney

Retain indefinitely (review at death)

Personal investments

Retain indefinitely (review at death)

Court of Protection

Indefinitely (review at death)

Property/Transfer of Property

15

Declaration of Trusts

Retain indefinitely

Pension schemes

Retain indefinitely

Settlements

Retain indefinitely

Matters where client is under a disability i.e. lacks capacity or is a child

7 years from 18th birthday or upon loss of disability

Complaint & Claim Files & Records

7 years

Diversity

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution aims to ensure that all clients have equal access to our services. Our inclusive approach means we look to engage with clients as individuals, recognising that we are all different and may have different needs. This applies to everyone.

Accessibility

We aim for all clients to find it easy to communicate with us.

If you have a disability, health problem or mental health issue, we can help you by making reasonable adjustments, which can remove or reduce barriers you may face. Let us know as soon as possible if you need us to make adjustments for you. You can let us know how we can help best. Kent and Surrey Family Resolution will try to find a way to remove or reduce any disadvantage because of your disability, health problem or mental health issue.

The nature of any adjustments depends on your individual needs:

  • Allowing more time (we will tell you if we cannot extend a time limit set by law)
  • Offering you an alternative to using online services, such as telephone appointments.
  • Allowing you to have someone accompany you
  • Using your preferred way of communication: by email, telephone or in person (dependent on lockdown/government restrictions)
  • Providing information in alternative formats

We will not be able to agree an adjustment that fundamentally changes our responsibilities or duties.

Increasing diversity

We comply with approved regulators, such as the SRA and Resolution, in ensuring that a comprehensive evidence base about the diversity characteristics of the legal professions is available.

We carry out a survey, updated upon a change in personnel, collecting anonymised diversity data on Kent and Surrey Family Resolution's workforce.

Kent and Surrey Family Resolution aim to integrate diversity and inclusion into our work and our organisation’s culture as the heart of the work we do. This is in addition to statutory obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

Our aims include:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share protected characteristics. These include: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.
  • Fostering good relations between people who share protected characteristics and those who do not.
  • Continuing professional development and new services to reflect the needs of individual clients. We recognise a diverse population of clients requires a diverse legal profession.

Covid-19 pandemic

The Legal Services Board 2020 report reflected on impacts of Covid-19 and associated lockdowns. It states that the impact has included making 'existing social inequality starker'. The need for services that meet the needs of society is 'more urgent'. Kent and Surrey Family Resolution has shifted to offering videoconferencing and telephone appointments in order to widen access, although we recognise the skills and technology required are not present for all clients and continue to work for adaptable, accessible solutions.

The Legal Services Board 2020 Report