Jersey: Data Protection In Jersey

Last Updated: 24 May 2016
Article by Huw Thomas and Siobhan Riley

A rare case in Jersey regarding the rights of data subjects to access their own personal data under Article 7 of the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005 (the "Law") has demonstrated that even 11 years after the Law was enacted, there remains significant uncertainty about one of its most fundamental provisions.


Dr Alwitry (Dr A) is a consultant ophthalmologist. He applied for a job as consultant at the General Hospital and entered into a contract of employment in August 2012 with the States Employment Board. This contract was revoked in November 2012.

Dr A brought proceedings for unfair dismissal which were subsequently withdrawn.

Dr A's legal representatives also made subject access requests under Article 7 of the Law.

Whilst a number of documents were disclosed, a number were also withheld on the following basis:

  • The request was said to go beyond what was proportionate.
  • The subject access request was being made for an improper purpose - that is to say as a tool to obtain discovery of documents intended to further litigation and professional complaints raised by Dr A.
  • Part of the request related to unredacted copies of material which had been redacted to remove names of witnesses. This was resisted on the grounds that personal data of third parties should not be disclosed without their informed consent.

The Law

Article 7 of the Law provides that individuals (known as "data subjects") have certain information rights (although there are a number of exceptions and exemptions). The rights – normally known as subject access – entitle an individual (on payment of a fee) to be:

  • told whether any of their personal data is being processed;
  • given a description of their personal data, the reasons it is being processed, and whether it will be disclosed to any other organisations or people;
  • given a copy of the information comprising the data; and given details of the source of the data (where this is available).

The Law states that a data controller does not have to comply with the request to the extent that doing so would mean disclosing information about another individual who can be identified from that information, except where:

  • the other individual has consented to the disclosure; or
  • it is reasonable in all the circumstances to comply with the request without that individual's consent.

The Decision

The Royal Court held that:

  • The Respondents had not complied with their duty to identify all of the personal data belonging to Dr A. It was therefore ordered that they should do so.
  • The burden of proof in relation to establishing that a subject access request has been made for an improper purpose lies on the data controller – in this case that burden had not been discharged.
  • Where the disclosure of Dr A's personal data would involve the disclosure of information relating to third parties, then the identity of those interviewed as a result of the various investigations which had been undertaken and the opinions which they expressed should be disclosed. Other names, such as the identity of note takers and other candidates, should be redacted.


The judgment was in large part unsurprising: it endorsed UK case law in relation to data protection (which is based on materially identical UK legislation).

However, the judgment did contain some more problematic elements:

  • There is a significant amount of technical guidance – and a very detailed Code of Practice – published by the UK Information Commissioner (UK ICO). This does not appear to have informed either the arguments before the court or the judgment itself.
  • It ordered the disclosure of documents. The Law does not entitle data subjects to documents or copies of documents. Instead, it provides that data subjects are entitled to disclosure in intelligble form of their personal data. It is open to the data controller to extract the personal data and copy it into another document.
  • The judgment was perhaps lacking in the analysis of when it is appropriate to disclose personal data belonging to third parties. Whilst it correctly stated that a "balancing exercise" is necessary, the judgment also states:

    "However, in balancing the respective rights for the purposes of Article 7(7)(b) of the Data Protection Law – what is reasonable to be disclosed notwithstanding their objection to disclosure - the Court will have regard to whether their personal data is ancillary to the main purpose for which the data is held, and here that is obviously so. A good way of testing that is to ask the question whether the data which represents material relevant to both the Representor and others would be retrievable in a proportionate way if held not on equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, but held manually in a relevant filing system. If held on the latter basis, one would find the data under "A" for Alwitry and not under the initial of whoever had expressed an opinion relevant to whether the Representors job offer should be withdrawn. That empirical test emphasises how on any normal reading of the facts here, the context is that the data is more directly concerned with the Representor than with anyone else..."

    This does not indicate that a balancing exercise between the rights of data subjects is occurring – it instead suggests that the court is applying a relevance test which in our opinion forms no part of the Law. The Law itself provides factors which should be taken into account when deciding whether it is reasonable to disclose information even without the consent of a third party. These include:

    • any duty of confidentiality owed to the third-party individual,
    • any steps taken to try to get the third-party individual's consent,
    • whether the third-party individual is capable of giving consent, and
    • any stated refusal of consent by the third-party individual.

The UK ICO suggests that the following additional factors should be taken into account:

  • Information generally known by the individual making the request. Third-party information relating to a member of staff (acting in the course of their duties) who is well known to the individual making the request through their previous dealings would be more likely to be disclosed than information relating to an otherwise anonymous private individual.
  • Circumstances relating to the individual making the request. The importance of the information to the requester is also a relevant factor. The need to preserve confidentiality for a third party must be weighed against the requester's right to access information about his or her life.

Responsing to subject access requests

There is a great deal of assistance available from the Jersey Information Commissioner.

Additionally, the UK ICO has produced a Code of Practice on dealing with subject access requests, which sets out ways in which most if not all problems can be addressed.

The ICO also makes two fundamental points:

  • If an organisation responds transparently to subject access requests and complies with the obligations under the law to the best of its abilities, it is less likely to get into costly disputes and difficulties.
  • There are certain "indicators of good practice", such as:

    • training and guidance for staff
    • dedicated request handling staff
    • a logging and checklist system which tracks the progress of a subject access request, including date of receipt and steps taken to locate personal data.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions