Insolvency Notices

FOI request reference: F0045193
Publication date: April 2016

Outcome: Successful

Request:

Under the FOIA, please advise:

(1) How many individuals in relation to personal insolvency in the years 2013 to 2015 have requested information to be redacted on the basis of risk to their physical/mental health/safety. In absence of such data, provide such information you have in relation to the latest complete set of 3 years. 

(2) Internal guidance relating to determining such claims.

(3) The view of HMSO and/or National Archives in relation to its obligations as a public body under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 notwithstanding the provisions of The Insolvency Rules 1988.

(4) Why you advise that an individual concerned about data accuracy first contacts the organisation/person who placed the notice despite the fact that

HMSO/National Archives is responsible for Gazette accuracy as data controller?

(5) Your justification for stating that “There may be a charge for correcting inaccurate information” when accuracy is a requirement under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Response:

Your request has been handled partly as a request for information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 and secondly as a general enquiry.

This is because a request under FOI is a request for recorded information and the Act only extends to recorded information. It does not require public authorities to answer questions or provide information on their policies; only if they already hold the answers in recorded form. Authorities can and are obliged, however, to provide advice and assistance under FOI, where applicable, and often in cases where the information is not held. They can also answer questions about their services as business or general enquiries, which are handled and answered outside of the FOI process.

In terms of FOI, I can confirm that The National Archives holds some information relevant to your request. We are pleased to be able to provide this information to you below along with answers to your general enquiries and advice and assistance.

(1) How many individuals in relation to personal insolvency in the years 2013 to 2015 have requested information to be redacted on the basis of risk to their physical/mental health/safety. In absence of such data, provide such information you have in relation to the latest complete set of 3 years.

From January 2013 to December 2015, 14 individuals requested that their details be redacted from The Gazette due to issues with personal physical/mental health/safety.

(2) Internal guidance relating to determining such claims.

The National Archives does not hold any internal guidance on this issue. Two discussion papers were presented to The Gazette Delivery Boards, in June 2015, which raised questions for the Board based on recent enquiries. These discussions resulted in the public/external guidance that can be found on The Gazette website here: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/policies/removing-notices

(3) The view of HMSO and/or National Archives in relation to its obligations as a public body under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 notwithstanding the provisions of The Insolvency Rules 1988.

Article 8 of the Human Rights Act is not an absolute right. We would draw your attention to section 2 of Article 8 quoted below, in particular, the parts underlined:

  1. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. [1]

In this case, the relevant law is the Insolvency Rules 1986, which places a requirement on the Official Receiver to publish notices in The Gazette.

(4) Why you advise that an individual concerned about data accuracy first contacts the organisation/person who placed the notice despite the fact that

HMSO/National Archives is responsible for Gazette accuracy as data controller?

As stated in the Privacy Notice on The Gazette website:

If there is a statutory requirement to publish a notice in The Gazette, the personal data in these notices consists of information which the data controller is obliged to publish under legislation. For example, the publication of bankruptcy orders in The Gazette is governed by the Insolvency Rules – rule 6.46’. [2]

This being the case, section 34 of the Data Protection Act 1998, ‘Information available to the public by or under enactment’, applies.[3] Amongst other provisions, section 34 states that personal data is exempt from ‘the fourth data protection principle and section 14(1) to (3)’. The fourth principle is the requirement that data must be accurate, and section 14 covers the data subject’s right to rectification of inaccurate data.

Section 12.20 (3) of the Insolvency Rules 1986 states:

‘Where an order of the court which is gazetted has been varied, and where any matter has been erroneously or inaccurately gazetted, the person whose responsibility it was to procure the requisite entry in the Gazette shall forthwith cause the variation of the order to be gazetted or, as the case may be, a further entry to be made in the Gazette for the purpose of correcting the error or inaccuracy.[4]

Therefore the making of any correction resides with the supplier of the notice.

(5) Your justification for stating that “There may be a charge for correcting inaccurate information” when accuracy is a requirement under the Data Protection Act 1998.

As explained in full above, under section 34 of the Data Protection Act 1998, as the contractor (The Stationery Office) is publishing this information under the Insolvency Rules they are exempt from the accuracy requirement of the fourth data protection principle and are therefore able to charge for a correction.

However, the charge to correct inaccurate information is discretionary – its aim is to encourage accuracy and ensure that the responsibility for the quality of the notice submission is considered by all notice placers. The contractor does not charge for genuine mistakes or mistakes that are out of the control of the notice placer; neither do they charge if there is evidence of significant risk, which is defined in the online guidance, provided in the link above.

[1] Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 can be found in full here:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1

[2] For The Gazette Privacy Notice please see: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/privacy

[3] Section 34 of the Data Protection Act 1998 can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/section/34

[4] The Insolvency Rules 1986, Rule 12.20 can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1986/1925/article/12.20/made