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HMRC internal manual

Securities Guidance

Introduction and the law: disclosure of confidential customer information

Disclosure is the giving of information that we have collected from our customers and the general public in carrying out our functions. We are bound by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 to respect the confidentiality of this information. Disclosure of customer information which is not authorised by that Act constitutes a criminal offence. Disclosure of material to defence counsel during legal proceedings (evidential disclosure) is a separate issue and is covered in detail in the Enforcement Handbook.

Our most likely disclosure to a third party in security work will be the reasons why we require security. Any disclosure we make must be for the purposes of protecting the revenue and maintaining good administrative practice by providing clear explanations for our decisions. We may disclose to a person affected by a requirement of security such information as we hold which was instrumental in the decision to require security. We should limit the disclosure to only such information as is necessary.

Disclosure is allowed if the person that the information is about has given their written consent to the disclosure, for example on form 64-8 - Authorising your agent.

There are circumstances where we may disclose to a customer’s nominated representative although we do not have written consent. For example, if a customer is elusive or non-compliant, and the only point of contact is their nominated representative, we may disclose to the representative only such information as is necessary for us to proceed with the case.

There is detailed guidance about disclosure in the Information Disclosure Guide (IDG), which must be consulted in all cases where you are uncertain about whether disclosure is permitted.