Legal proceedings: provision of information
Procedure where information within the possession, custody or control of the University is required to be provided in connection with legal proceedings
Approved by Council on 13 July 2015
1. The University may be required to disclose information within its possession, custody or control in the context of legal proceedings (‘Information’), including legal proceedings to which the University is not a party. The University may also choose to co-operate with legal proceedings where it determines that it is in its best interests to do so (for example, to avoid the need to become subject to a Court Order). The University may also require access to Information in order to obtain advice in situations where legal proceedings may not have been commenced.
2. Where the University is required to co-operate with Court proceedings, it must do so and must adhere to timescales ordered by the Court. Failure to do so may result, among other things, in contempt proceedings against individual University officers. All members of the University must therefore comply with this Procedure when applicable.
3. The Legal Services Office and the relevant officers of the University will seek to support individuals required to assist in supplying Information under the following Procedure, provided no conflict of interests arises.
4. In the circumstances referred to in paragraphs (1)-(3) above, the following paragraphs will apply.
4.1 The Registrar must confirm in writing (which may include email) that he/she has consented to the collection of Information in connection with the relevant legal proceedings and that provision of the Information is authorized by the University. This confirmation will ordinarily be provided to Legal Services and forwarded by Legal Services as required
4.2 Legal Services Office must inform the relevant individuals that Information is sought in connection with legal proceedings. Relevant individuals may include the Head of Department and Departmental Administrator (or equivalents); the relevant principal investigator if the request relates to research undertaken by the University and that person remains an employee of the University; the Chief Information Security Officer; the Head of IT (or equivalent) of the relevant Department(s).
4.3 Legal Services Office will ordinarily provide the individuals referred to in paragraph 2 above with a copy of the Registrar’s confirmation per paragraph 1 above, and the following (to the extent available):
(i) sufficient information to enable the Head of Department/Departmental administrator to identify and safeguard the Information concerned;
(ii) such information as may be available regarding the proposed method and timing of collection of the Information;
(iii) whether any individual within the relevant Department is likely to be required to provide Information by way of a statement in connection with legal proceedings.
4.4 The Head of Department/ Departmental Administrator will nominate an individual to act as contact for the provision of the Information (the ‘Departmental Contact’). The Departmental Contact will liaise with relevant individuals within and outside the Department to enable the Information to be collected, including, (if requested by the Legal Services Office), assisting in the assessment of the nature and extent of the Information required to be provided, and providing follow-up support after the Information has been accessed.
4.5 Members of the University are required to respond in a timely manner to requests relating to provision of Information, including complying with any timescales notified to them.
Where Information required to be provided includes ‘personal data’ as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998, its disclosure will be covered by that Act. The Act allows for disclosure of personal data in certain circumstances, including those stated above i.e in the context of legal proceedings and the taking of legal advice. The Act provides that such data ‘are exempt from the non-disclosure provisions where the disclosure is required by or under any enactment, by any rule of law or by the order of any Court’ or ‘where the disclosure is necessary for the purpose of, or in connection with, any legal proceedings, or prospective legal proceedings; for the purpose of obtaining legal advice; or for establishing, exercising or defending legal rights’.