Summary by Joseph Carr, Anthony Gold Solicitors
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Procedure – deceased asbestos claims
High Court, Queen’s Bench Division
Master Victoria McCloud
17 July 2014
Master McCloud sets out a new protocol that applies in
deceased asbestos claims and deals with requests for disclosure from HMRC of
the HMRC employment history of the deceased.
In what was a departure from previous practice HMRC had
taken the view that they could not lawfully disclose HMRC employment schedules
in respect of deceased persons outside the scope of issued court
proceedings. HMRC had concluded that
since s 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998) defined “personal data” as
data relating to a living individual, and there was no third party right under
the act, that when the subject of the data request was deceased, it was right
to refuse disclosure under the DPA 1998. HMRC also argued that the court had no
jurisdiction to order disclosure against them under CPR, r 31.17 as this power
assumed the existence of an issued claim.
The effect of this was that potential claimants, acting on
behalf of the estate or as dependents could no longer obtain employment
histories that were needed to be able to identify and sue the correct
tortfeasors. Master McCloud listed the
issue for hearing and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) joined
in as co-respondents due to the widespread significance of the problem. After the application was issued, an
amendment was proposed to the Deregulation Bill to deal with this issue but the
obstacle would remain until any such bill became effective.
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