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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: Human Rights Act: Article 8 - interference

Interference can only be proportionate if it is the minimum necessary to achieve the aim. You should take the following points into account.

  • What do you expect to gain from the planned activity?
  • What is the degree and nature of the intrusion?
  • Are you sure the information has not already been provided?
  • Could you get the information in a less intrusive way, for example, direct from the person rather than from someone else?
  • How sensitive is the information you need? Personal information such as medical matters or confidential advice may raise particular sensitivities.
  • What is the expectation of privacy? For example, a business may expect examination of its primary financial records, but may consider commercially sensitive records or those relating to its clients to be more private.

The more private the information is the more justification you need to obtain it. Certain classes of documents and information are specifically protected, see CH22100.

It is therefore crucial (especially when seeking sensitive information) that you record fully the reasons why you think that the conditions of Article 8(2) are satisfied before you ask for any information that may interfere with a person’s rights of privacy. It may be useful to discuss these reasons with the person or their agent in advance so that you can explain the nature and purpose of your request for information. If the person understands why we need particular information or documents (or why we need to carry out an inspection) it may lead to enhanced co-operation and an early end to our enquiries.

You can find the full text of Article 8 on the HRA intranet site.