The claimant, Mr Elliott, had made subject access requests to Lloyds TSB Bank PLC and remained dissatisfied with the outcome. In particular, he disputed Lloyds’ compliance with s.7(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 as to whether Lloyds was required to search for his personal data (if any) from the records of six senior managers within the bank. He sought damages for breach of the Act and an order for further disclosure.
Lloyds argued that the dominant purpose of Mr Elliot’s application was to further his potential claims against them. The court found that the claimant had mixed motives in bringing the application, but rejected the defendant’s “dominant purpose” test, instead applying the “but for” test, stating: “the application will not be an abuse of process unless it can be shown that but for the collateral purpose the application would not have been brought at all”. The court held that Mr Elliot would have brought the claim regardless of the prospective litigation and so it was not an abuse of process.
The court, however, held that the Lloyds was only obliged to conduct a reasonable and proportionate search and that it would be disproportionate to order further searches, namely searching the records of the six senior managers identified by Mr Elliott.
Although it was held to be disproportionate for the defendant to carry out further searches, Lloyds were ordered to pay a substantial part of Mr Elliot’s costs. This was because Lloyds had disclosed a substantial amount of new data after Mr Elliot lodged his claim and the initial searches carried out by Lloyds would not have been sufficient to satisfy its obligations under the Act.