The Court of Appeal has followed its recent decision in Dawson-Damer and others v Taylor Wessing LLP by holding that proportionality applies to limit the scope of the efforts that an employer must make in responding to a data subject access request. Interestingly, the Court confirmed that a first search may be considered adequate even if a further and more extensive search would reveal some more personal data.
The Court also gave some useful guidance on when it will exercise its discretion to require an employer to comply with a subject access request. A court will be less inclined to exercise its discretion to order this if there is any abuse of rights by the data subject (for example, where the individual brings the claim merely to put pressure on the employer) or where the real quest is to get hold of documents rather than their personal data.
Why this matters? This case reaffirms that proportionality applies to the scope of the search carried out by an employer. However, while employers can take greater comfort when pushing back on the scope of a wide ranging data subject access request, a proportionate search may still require a lot of effort for the employer.