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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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