Data Protection: Civil Monetary Penalties

November 11, 2009

The Ministry of Justice is consulting on civil monetary penalties. The consultation document can be found at The consultation period runs until 21 December. 

It is not a complicated consultation document. The proposal is summarised as follows: 

‘The Government proposes that in relation to Monetary Penalties imposed under Section 55A of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) for serious breaches of the data protection principles, the maximum prescribed amount that the Information Commissioner will be able to impose will be £500,000

The Government is proposing to introduce a maximum Civil Monetary Penalty for serious breaches of the DPA of up to £500,000. This reflects the importance that Government places on safeguarding personal data effectively and processing it responsibly and lawfully. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will exercise its discretion to assess the appropriate level of any penalty it imposes and will publish detailed guidance setting out the criteria it will use and circumstances it will take into consideration.’

The ‘questionnaire’ lists only one question: ‘1. Do you consider that a penalty of up to £500,000 provides the ICO with a proportionate sanction for serious contraventions of the data protection principles?’

Why it is numbered is not explained. 

There is draft guidance from the ICO on the use of the civil monetary penalties. The draft guidance can be found at