CLAO Privacy Notice

This Privacy Notice is a statement by CLAO to clients and service users that describes how we collect, use, retain and disclose personal information which we hold. This privacy notice is part of our commitment to ensure that we process your personal information/data fairly and lawfully.

The Civil Legal Assistance Office is a service operated by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, which is the public authority which administers legal aid in Scotland in terms of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986. The Data Controller is the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

We provide legal services directly to individuals and other advice agencies. We also offer a referral and signposting service for individuals who want assistance with a legal problem. These are all functions of the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

In carrying out these functions we collect, use and retain different types of personal information about you. We rely on specific provisions under Article 6 and 9 of the General Data Protection Regulation as the lawful basis for processing of data, as   a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.’  Our lawful basis for processing your data as a client will also include our contractual obligations to you as a client.

This means we can use your personal information to provide you with your advice or other service without seeking your consent.  However, you do have the right to say ‘NO’ to our use of your information but this will have an impact on our ability to provide you with a service.

What information do we collect from you?

We collect, use and store different types of personal information about you.  This may include:

  • Basic details such as name, address, relationship status, date of birth, phone number, National Insurance Number and email address  - where you have provided it to enable us to communicate with you by email
  • Your income and sources of income and capital, including bank details
  • Identity of any carer and contact details
  • Notes and reports about your legal problem
  • Relevant information from other professionals, relatives or others who are witnesses in your case
  • A record of any contacts you have with us such as phone calls and meetings.

Some types of personal information are defined as special. We will only collect and use these types of information where we need to and if the law allows us to:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs
  • Trade union membership
  • Genetic or biometric data used for ID purposes
  • Health data
  • Sex life and sexual orientation
  • Criminal convictions data

Who we share your information with

We may share your personal information with a range of external organisations as is necessary for the purposes set out above and as permitted or required by law, including the following:

  • Other agents and service providers who we use as part of the provision of services,  including other solicitors, advice agencies, counsel, intermediaries, expert witnesses, courts, and sheriff officers (or similar)
  • The police and other law enforcement agencies, HMRC and other government bodies where it is necessary to do so for the purpose of providing you with our services, or where we have a legal or regulatory obligation to do so
  • Relevant regulators, including the Information Commissioner's Office in the event of a personal data breach, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Law Society of Scotland and The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
  • Other parties in a dispute or legal proceedings, or other matter on which we are advising you.

In sharing any of your information we will always comply with our professional duty of confidentiality to you as set out in Standards Rule B1.6 of The Law Society of Scotland.

How long we keep your personal information

We will only retain your personal information as a client for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes we collected it for, including for the purposes of satisfying any legal, accounting, or reporting requirements.

In relation to matters in which we act for clients, we follow the guidelines issued by the Law Society of Scotland concerning the retention of client files. This means that we will retain those files (and your personal information within them) for a minimum period of 10 years from the date on which the matter on which you have instructed us has completed. If the matter involves advice regarding a child or family law issue then we will either retain those files (and your personal information with them) until the youngest child reaches the age of 16 or for the aforementioned 10 year period, whichever is longer.

In relation to matters where we have acted as a referral, signposting or second tier service, we will retain those records (and the personal information within them for a maximum period of five years from the last date you contacted us.  

We, or organisations working on our behalf, may contact you for research purposes. Participation in such research is entirely voluntary: you are under no obligation to take part. 

We will only process the personal information we hold in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation and for SLAB’s function under the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986.

Your rights

Under the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 you have the right to make a request to see the personal information we hold about you. This is called a Subject Access Request (SAR).You can inspect the data and have it corrected if it is wrong. In addition you may also have rights to have your data erased or have your data moved. You may be able to object to processing if you believe it to be unlawful and subject to lawful restrictions. To request your personal data you should contact SLAB’s Data Protection Officer - see contact details below.

If you are unhappy with the response you get from us, you can ask us to look again at your request – you can write to SLAB’s Data Protection Officer at or using SLAB’s postal address. At any time, you are entitled to ask the Information Commissioner to review our decision or to go to court to enforce your rights.


Contact Information

Data Protection Officer

Scottish Legal Aid Board

Thistle House

91 Haymarket Terrace


EH12 5HE


Telephone: 0131 226 7061


The Information Commissioner

You can find information about how to report a concern to the Information Commissioner on her website at:

Alternatively you can call them on 0303 123 1113 or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Or to the Scottish Regional Office for the ICO

Information Commissioner's Office
45 Melville Street

Tel: 0303 123 1115