R v SAI Property Investments Ltd t/a IPS Property Services
Reading Magistrates Court, 30 March 2012
This case is believed to be the first prosecution of a letting agency under the Data Protection Act.
It involves Ounkar Singh Nainu, a Council worker, who supplied information to Punjab Sandh and Sundeep Jaswal of SAI Property Investments Limited, trading as IPS Property Services.
To quote the report on the ICO website:
The first offence took place in September 2009 when Jaswal made contact with Nainu and asked him to obtain personal data about some of their tenants from housing benefit records. This information was provided without the Council’s knowledge and used by the company to chase up their tenant’s outstanding debts. An unsuccessful attempt was then made to obtain further information from the Council’s records in March 2010.
The Council received an anonymous tip-off that Nainu had been illegally accessing the data, and launched an immediate investigation before reporting the matter to the ICO.
Despite the fact that the ICO seems to think that this was a pretty serious matter, and the fact that offenders can be fined up to £5000 at Magistrates Court or an unlimited amount at Crown Court, the fines in this case appear to be pretty low.
- IPS Property Services was fined £260 for two offences and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge plus £702.08 costs
- Nainu (the Council worker) was fined £690.00 for three offences and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £351.03 prosecution costs.
Still, the parties will now have a criminal record which won’t do them any good. You have been warned!