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HMRC internal manual

Decisions and appeals for National Insurance Contributions and Statutory Payments

Confidentiality: Introduction

When you deal with decisions and appeals you will handle personal and confidential information. You are under a strict legal duty to maintain the confidentiality of information. If you breach this legal duty you commit a criminal offence.

You must not disclose information to any third parties unless you have the customer’s consent. You must be very careful to consider customer confidentiality when you have any interaction with a third party when dealing with a customer’s affairs.

Guidance on confidentiality

If you are in doubts about what you should include in

  • notices of decision and/or covering explanatory letters, and/or
  • subsequent correspondence about the decisions and any appeal,

refer to the Information Disclosure Guide.

More than one person named or affected by a decision

Where more than one person is named in a decision, for example, an employer and an employee, you cannot divulge information about the

  • employer to the employee, or
  • the employee to the employer

unless you have their consent. In particular, this will be something you have to consider when issuing decisions about

  • Class 1 National Insurance contributions (NIC) where both primary and secondary NIC are involved,
  • employment status,
  • statutory payments.

If a person named in a decision wants information about any other person named in the decision, you should inform them that there is a strict legal duty of confidentiality which prevents you from disclosing any information relating to the affairs of any particular individual or company.

DANSP48200 includes some examples to illustrate what you should do when issuing notices of decisions and explanatory letters to preserve confidentiality.

Guidance on disclosure of sensitive information

Guidance is available at ARTG4340 on disclosure of sensitive information, such as intelligence information, held by the decision maker.