UK - Leading law firms have warned that the new Data Protection Act 1998 will increase the already heavy burden imposed on pension trustees.
Lawyers said trustees would be caught up in the wide-ranging “paper regulation” which the Act enforces.
As from October 23, all trustees and pension managers must offer scheme members personal disclosure of their personal files. Rowe and Maw partner Andrew White said: The trustee burden is a real burden for pension schemes as there is the likelihood of fines and the threat of imprisonment for really serious breaches. Like the stakeholder deadline, there are people this has crept up on.
In a warning to non-compliant schemes, White said the first priority of the data protection commission would be to enforce compliance.
Hammonds SuddardsEdge solicitor Francois Barker said: “Processing is defined extremely widely in the Act and will cover everything from creating, storing, using and transferring, to destroying personal data. Trustees will inevitably be caught by the Act.”
Barker added that it was not clear whether trustee meeting minutes and “expression of wish” forms would be caught by the Act.
He said: “If they are, this could require trustees to disclose relevant extracts to the individuals named in them.
The Act heightens demands placed upon trustees by the Data Protection Act 1994, which now covers paper filing systems as well as electronic data.
Scheme members will be able to demand disclosure and view trustees’ computer records as well as organised manual files – where previously only limited access to trustees’ computer records were required.
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