Brexit will not mean relaxed data-protection legislation, says lawyer

Andrew Studd of the law firm Russell Cooke tells the Association of Charitable Organisations that leaving the EU is unlikely to affect the status of the General Data Protection Regulation, due to come into force next year

Andrew Studd
Andrew Studd

Britain’s exit from the European Union in unlikely to prompt a relaxation in data-protection laws, according to Andrew Studd, charity partner at the law firm Russell Cooke.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Charitable Organisations in central London yesterday, Studd told delegates he believed the UK would keep the General Data Protection Regulation, due to come into effect in May 2018, or an equivalent law even after leaving the EU.

All EU regulations would be transferred to the UK statute books when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, Studd said, and the laws would then be examined to see if any changes needed to be made to make them workable outside of the EU.

But this was unlikely to affect the GDPR, which will require charities and other organisations to ensure people have opted in to having their data processed or receiving communications from them in most cases, he said.

"The GDPR becomes law next May," Studd said. "It will become law in this country before we leave the EU, so it will become part of our domestic law.

"This is moving into the realm of speculation, but the GDPR has effect extra-jurisdictionally: in other words, if you want to trade into Europe you must demonstrate that you have equivalent data-protection laws in place."

The alternative, he said, would be to contractually impose certain provisions on the retention of data on trade contracts, which he said would "require six or seven pages of dense legalese" to be added.

This would depend on the final deal that was struck between Britain and the EU in the Brexit negotiations, he said, but he expected very little to change in relation to the GDPR.  

"Personally, I think in the UK we will demand high standards of data protection, we want to trade with Europe, and therefore we will have to have good, equivalent legislation," he said.

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