Under the current data protection regime everybody has a right to obtain a copy of any information and documentation relating to him or her kept on computer or in hard copy by any entity or organisation. Such a request costs €6.35 and the organisation must respond within 40 days. This process will change on the 25 May 2018 with the implementation of GDPR, when every access request will be free of charge and the organisation will have to respond within 30 days.
With such a powerful tool in our grasp, it is time to reconsider the arduous process of discovery in litigation.
In late November 2017, the High Court considered discovery and the data subject access request in Susquehanna International Group Limited v Daniel Needham where Ms Justice Baker found that the High Court could compel a party making discovery to make a data subject access request.
The Court held that there was no reason why information that can be obtained through a data access request cannot be the subject matter of a request for discovery.
In that case, the Court was satisfied that the defendant had the unique right to seek certain documents by way of data subject access request, that such a request would not be oppressive or disproportionate; and the data in question was not confidential or highly personal information. The Court was also of the view that the request for discovery in that case was not an attempt to use data protection law for a collateral purpose.
The case brings new meaning to the phrase “documents in the possession, power or procurement” of a party to the proceedings and illustrates a Court move towards prudence in the face of costly and time consuming discovery process.