GDPR – How Will it Affect my Business?

All businesses have paper and/or digital records of data relating to their customers and employees: names, addresses, emails and other personal information.

On 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes law. The GDPR sets new standards for data protection and its enforcement. It restates what is meant by data and how that data should be collected, managed, stored and secured.

While GDPR consolidates existing data protection principles, it significantly strengthens the rights of individuals (data subjects) in relation to data held about them including how they can access, rectify and have that data erased (“the right to be forgotten”).

A key decision for any business planning for GDPR will be to identify the lawful basis upon which they are going to process personal data. Much of the hype surrounding GDPR relates to “consent” which we will turn to shortly. However, consent is just one of a number of lawful grounds for which GDPR permits the processing of data. Other legitimate grounds are:

  • Contract – for performance of a contract with a data subject or to take steps to enter into a contract
  • Compliance – for compliance with legal obligations
  • Vital interests e.g. where necessary to protect a person’s interests or life
  • Public task – for the protection of public interests or in the exercise of official authority
  • Legitimate interests – to fulfil the legitimate interests of the data controller except where those are overridden by the interests of the data subject

Except for direct or indirect marketing then, the received wisdom is that consent should only be used as a condition for processing personal data where none of the other above grounds apply.

Consent already exists as a concept under the current data protection regime and GDPR actually makes it more difficult to obtain consent to the processing of data. Whereas organisations already need to obtain consent before sending marketing communications (e.g. the pre-ticked box), GDPR requires that consent is be freely given, specific, informed, properly documented and easy for people to withdraw. The use of pre-ticked, opt-out boxes will no longer be permitted as a method of obtaining consent to receive marketing material.

Even where a lawful basis for processing has been identified, you still need to audit the information held to ensure its accuracy. Internal procedures should be reviewed to ensure that there are the correct resources to manage and protect the information on a continuing basis. There should also be a very clear privacy policy in place.

For the first time, GDPR also introduces the requirement to report data breaches. A data controller has 72 hours from becoming aware of a loss of customer details which could leave that individual open to identity theft to report that loss to both the individual and to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

Another fundamental difference between the current regime and GDPR is enforcement. Pre-GDPR, the maximum fine which the ICO could impose for a data breach is £500,000. Under GDPR, the maximum fine will be €20Million or 4% of turnover, whichever is greater.

Undoubtedly, GDPR brings in significantly more robust data protection rules and will require all businesses to review and develop their existing data protection policies and procedures. But remember that the core purpose of GDPR is to ensure that all businesses adhere to what should already be best practice.

The ICO’s website contains a lot of essential information about GDPR and will be an invaluable resource for anyone tasked with ensuring that their business is GDPR-ready in time for 25 May 2018.

The content of this blog is for information only and should not be construed as legal advice or treated as a substitute for specific advice given by Mitchells Roberton.

Rise in First-Time Buyer Numbers

There was a sharp rise in the number of first-time buyers entering the property market in 2017 despite having to put down a deposit that is more than double what was required ten years ago.

The latest Halifax First-Time Buyer Review found that the number of first- time buyers rose by 6% in the last 12 months. Halifax data also revealed that although the average price of a typical first home has grown by 21% from £174,703 to £212,079, first time buyer levels have almost returned to those last seen in 2007, when 359,900 took their first step on the property ladder. This is an increase of 87% compared to an all-time low of 192,300 in 2008 and is now just 11% below the most recent peak of 402,800 in 2006. First-time buyers now account for half of all house purchases with a mortgage, an increase from 36% a decade ago.

“A flow of new buyers into home ownership is vital for the overall wellbeing of the UK housing market,” commented Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax. “This ten year high in the number  of first time buyers shows continued healthy movement in this key area despite a shortage of homes and the on-going challenge of saving enough of a deposit.”

“Low mortgage rates, high levels of employment and Government schemes such as Help to Buy have helped first-time buyers become a much greater segment of the market,” he added.

For expert legal advice on buying or selling a property in Scotland, whether you are a first-time buyer or an existing home owner, then please contact me Elizabeth Baker on 0141 552 3422 or by email

On-line Estate Agents vs Traditional Estate Agents

Over the past few years there has been an explosion in online estate agents who charge a flat fee rather than commission. Certainly digital technology, smart phones, apps and the Internet have transformed the way people market their property or search for a new home.  Slideshows and videos give great opportunities for showing a property at its best and can be seen by potential purchasers all over the world virtually.

Although it is cheaper to use an online estate agent you will pay an upfront fee regardless of whether the property sells or not. It is also likely that you will require to do the viewings yourself and there will probably be no after sales support.

So despite the rise of online tools and estate agents this has not removed the value of traditional estate agency skills. There are still many estate agents who provide a face to face service that can guide the seller from start to finish receiving a commission in exchange.  Conventional estate agents impart confidence. Many people want to walk into a shop and speak face to face to a real person and hand over their keys to someone they can trust. Neighbourhood knowledge is also important with awareness of local market trends and pricing levels for the area. It is key to get good advice on when it is the best time to put a property on the market and at what price or when to accept an offer and when to hold out for a better one. Also you want the property to be put in front of the right people not lots of the wrong people. You also only pay commission if the property sells.

Legal firms, as estate agents maintain their popularity with both buyers and sellers.

If you are thinking of buying or selling this spring, modern online tools will ease the task but so will good old fashioned aids like local knowledge and contacts. Put together they are a winning combination.

If I can help in the purchase or sale of any property please contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email

Number of Bankruptcy Awards in Scotland Falls

On the 24 January 2018 the Scottish Government body which deals with insolvency known as the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) released its latest statistics. The figures show a decrease in the number of bankruptcy awards in the last quarter of 2017. Although the AiB only keeps partial records relating to corporate insolvency the figures they do have show a slight drop in the number of liquidations for the same period. In general these figures are hopeful.

That said there has been an increase in the use of the Debt Arrangement Scheme and Protected Trust Deeds which reveals a small increase in the overall levels of personal insolvency.

However given the present unsettled economic climate it is always best to take early advice if you have any insolvency concerns.

If you would like to discuss your situation with an expert please contact Joel Conn on 0141 552 3422 or by email on

Be Proactive on Voluntary Registration

I have just been examining a big bundle of titles which were all dusty, making me sneeze, and some were barely legible. These titles relate to a property which has not yet been registered in the Land Register of Scotland but are titles recorded in Scotland’s General Register of Sasines , the oldest national land register in the world dating back to 1617. The Register’s name comes from the old French word ‘seizer’ meaning take and is a chronological list of land deeds which contain written descriptions of properties.

In 1981 the Land Register of Scotland was introduced which is a register of who owns land and property in Scotland, is based on the Ordinance Survey map and includes plans of registered properties with each property on the register having a title sheet. The title plan defines the extent of the property on a map.  The title sheet gives details of the current owners, price, mortgage details, and the conditions affecting the property. This title sheet is guaranteed by the Government.

In terms of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012 a cadastral map is now used which is a base map showing the totality of registered real rights in land. The aim is to have all Scottish land on this new digital map –based Land Register by 2024.

However only 30% of Scottish land is currently registered, so to speed up the process, Registers of Scotland has introduced ‘Keeper –Induced Registration’ (KIR). Rather than waiting for trigger events such as sale of land, the Land Register is transferring titles from the old Sasine Register to the Land Register itself.  In certain areas in Angus, Dumbarton, Glasgow and Midlothian and others it may already have happened to your property. There is a post code check at this page of the ROS website :

Leaving registration to the Registers means landowners have no control over the process and although saving registration dues and not having to fill in any paperwork, errors can occur. There may be issues around unfenced boundaries or rights of access. Also title deeds from the old Sasine Register often overlap. If these are not taken into account at the time of KIR, owners may face great inconvenience to rectify matters or prove their title.

There is therefore a strong argument for voluntary registration with homeowners being in control, avoiding errors, having clear boundaries, making their property more marketable and speeding up the conveyancing process.

If you would like more information on KIR and voluntary registration please contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email  and I will be happy to assist.

House Price Trends in 2018 Expected to be Similar to 2017

Halifax has revealed that prices in the final quarter of 2017 (October-December) were 2.7% higher  than in the same three months of the previous year. In addition house prices in that quarter were 1.3% higher than in the previous quarter (July-September).However despite there being a rise of 0.3% in both October and November 2017 there was a fall in December 2017 of 0.6% which was the first price drop since June 2017.

According to the latest House Price Index from Halifax the average price of a property in the UK at the end of 2017 was £225,021 which is 2.4% higher than in January 2017 when the average price was £219,741.

Halifax says it expects house price trends in 2018 to be similar to last year. Overall, annual house price growth nationally is expected to stay low and in the range of 0.3% by the end of 2018. The main drivers for this apparently are the continuing effects of the squeeze on spending power as inflation has outstripped wage growth and the uncertainty regarding the prospects for the UK economy next year.

“As we’d anticipated, the housing market in 2017 followed a similar pattern to the previous year,” commented Russell Galley Managing Director, Halifax Community Bank. “House price growth slowed  whilst building activity, completed sales and mortgage approvals for house purchase all remained flat. This has been driven by a squeeze on real wage growth and continuing uncertainty over the economy.”

“However nationally house prices in 2018 are likely to be supported by the ongoing shortage of properties for sale, low levels of house building, high employment and a continuation of low interest rates making mortgage servicing affordable in relative terms,” he added. “Overall we expect annual price growth to continue in the range of 0.3% at the end of 2018.”

For expert legal advice on buying or selling in Scotland then please contact Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email

Various Claimants v WM Morrisons Supermarkets Plc

This case serves as a reminder that an employer can be held liable for acts or omissions of their employees if it can be shown that those acts or omissions took place in the course of employment.

In Various Claimants v WM Morrisons Supermarkets Plc, the High Court found the supermarket chain vicariously liable for an employee’s disclosure of colleagues’ personal data. This is the first case of its kind since the introduction of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Mr Skelton, the employee, worked as a senior IT internal auditor and had access to confidential information about his fellow workers. In June 2013, Mr Skelton was subject to disciplinary action which he believed was unwarranted. In November 2013, he obtained payroll data to be passed to KPMG for external audit purposes. He downloaded this to a USB stick for KPMG but also made a personal copy. Just before Morrisons’ annual financial reports were announced in early 2014, Mr Skelton posted the personal  information he had obtained on a file sharing website. He was then arrested and charged with a number of crimes including fraud and an offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act. He was convicted and given an eight year prison sentence.

His colleagues, whose data had been disclosed, raised a group civil action against Morrisons, seeking redress for breach of the company’s statutory duty under section 4(4) of the DPA 1998, misuse of private information and breach of confidence.

The High Court agreed that Morrisons had no primary liability as they were not the data controller at the time of the breach. However, they were found to be vicariously liable as Mr Skelton’s wrongdoing was carried out in the course of his employment.

As Mr Skelton’s aim was to cause harm to Morrisons, the Court granted the company the right to appeal.

If you are an employer or employee facing difficulties in the workplace, please contact Paul Neilly or Hugh Grant by telephone (0141 552 3422) or email ( or