Information disclosure Gateways with other government departments: Enterprise Act 2002: disclosure of former Customs information
Introduction: What can be disclosed and who can it be disclosed to?
Part 9 of the Enterprise Act 2002 enables information collected by HMRC in the course of its functions under the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) or the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (VATA) to be disclosed to any person with functions under the legislation listed in Schedule 15 of the Enterprise Act. Generally the legislation listed in Schedule 15 provides protection to consumers. However, there is a wide variety of legislation listed and, therefore, a wide variety of persons to whom information may be disclosed.
The legislation in Schedule 15 is reproduced at IDG55220. Examples of organisations with functions under the legislation have been identified in the right hand column, but the lists are not exhaustive: other organisations may have functions under the legislation listed which are not detailed in IDG55220. When considering a disclosure under the provisions of the Enterprise Act it is therefore vital to identify what function the recipient is carrying out and under what legislation, in order to confirm the legislation is within Schedule 15.
Disclosures may be made spontaneously or on receipt of a request for information.
Which parts of HMRC can disclose this information?
Any part of HMRC holding information collected through the exercise of functions under CEMA or VATA may make these disclosures.
Procedure to follow
When making such a disclosure you must:
- Check that the recipient does have functions under legislation at IDG55220. If you are in any doubt you should ask the recipient to confirm what function they are carrying out and its legal basis, and if you are still not sure, contact your Data Guardian for advice.
- Check that the information to be disclosed has been obtained in carrying out HMRC’s CEMA or VATA functions.
- The gateway only applies to information about a living individual or an existing business (i.e. you cannot disclose information about the deceased or companies struck off the Companies Register, although you may disclose information about insolvent companies).
- You cannot disclose information contrary to the public interest
- You cannot disclose information if the disclosure might significantly harm the legitimate business interests of the undertaking to which it relates (if in doubt on this point, please seek advice from your Data Guardian).
- You cannot disclose information relating to the private affairs of an individual which might significantly harm the individual’s interests (as above, seek advice if in doubt).
- Also consider the extent to which disclosure is necessary to fulfil the purpose for which the disclosure is proposed.
- Keep a record of the information disclosed, who it was disclosed to, for what purpose, and under which piece of legislation under Schedule 15 of the Enterprise Act.
This guidance applies to the whole of the United Kingdom.
Ensuring information is shared lawfully
All disclosures of HMRC information must be lawful. See IDG40500 for more information on lawful disclosure as provided by the CRCA.
To be lawful, HMRC may only share information under the provisions of the Enterprise Act for those organisations who hold functions under Schedule 15 of that legislation.