Public Law: Information, Data and Privacy

Matrix is a leading chambers for public law work concerning the use of information by public bodies. Information and data-driven processes are increasingly central to public sector decision making in areas ranging from policing to immigration, national security, benefits, public health, education and safeguarding. Matrix barristers provide expert advice and representation on public bodies’ data policies and practices across these areas.  

Our team is at the forefront of work on cutting-edge legal issues arising from the growing use of automated decision making, artificial intelligence, machine learning and biometric data in the public sector. Our wide range of clients includes individuals, non-governmental organisations, central and local government, and educational institutions.  

This page focuses on Matrix’s judicial review and human rights practices concerning the use of information by public bodies. Matrix barristers are also specialists in private law data protection and privacy matters

Our expertise and experience

Barristers at Matrix have expertise and experience covering the following data and information-related issues in the public law sphere: 

  • The collection of information using common law and statutory powers. 
  • Surveillance, interception, obtaining and retaining communications data and equipment interference (including under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Investigatory Powers Act 2016).  
  • The development and exploitation of databases.   
  • Decision making involving algorithms, automation and artificial intelligence.  
  • Data sharing and information sharing agreements, including between public bodies, between public bodies and the private sector, and with foreign governments.   
  • The disclosure of information, including through the disclosure and barring regime and on criminal record certificates. 
  • Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA).   
  • Using equality law, including the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), to challenge information and data-related policies and practices.  
  • The publication of reports and other information by regulators. 
  • Proceedings in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. 

 Key cases

Matrix barristers have acted in many leading judicial review and human rights cases concerning public bodies’ use of information, as well as undertaking high-profile advisory work. Examples include: 

  • Police use of automated facial recognition: R (Bridges) v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2020] EWCA Civ 1058; [2020] 1 WLR 5037. 
  • Disclosure on criminal records certificates: R (P, G and W) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] UKSC 3; [2020] AC 185; R (AR) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester [2018] UKSC 47; [2018] 1 WLR 4079R (T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester [2014] UKSC 35; [2015] AC 49. 
  • Surveillance, interception, data acquisition and retention: Big Brother Watch & ors v UK (2018) ECHR;  Belhadj & Ors v Security Service & Ors (IPT, use of  intercepted LPP material); Privacy International v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Computer malware and hacking); Privacy International v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (bulk communications data and bulk personal datasets); Liberty v MI5 and Home Secretary (MI5’s data handling).  
  • Information sharing: Elgizouli v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] UKSC 10; [2020] 2 WLR 857R (Migrant Rights Network) v Secretary of State for Health (2017); R (W, X, Y & Z) v Secretary of State for Health [2015] EWCA Civ 1034; [2016] 1 WLR 698. 
  • Publication of reports by regulators: R (Interim Board of X School) v Ofsted [2016] EWHC 2004 (Admin); [2017] EMLR 5 
  • An independent legal review of the governance of biometric data.