In-house lawyers urged to pay close attention to extraterritorial GDPR disputes

By Grace Ormsby|20 November 2018

In-house counsel advising companies of all sizes should be paying “very close attention” to disputes surrounding GDPR enforcement and legal limitations around extraterritorial administrative and authorities for enforcement, an article has cautioned.

The article, in the International Association of Defense Counsel’s committee November newsletter, and authored by Joseph F. Speelman, explained “a generalised movement of governments, consumer advocates, and political groups around the globe are beginning to focus pressure on large multinational companies to cede to pressure for strong global data privacy laws.”

It warns of important and complex issues for corporate counsel and their clients, with “very difficult and unclear legal questions and issues “confronting the in-house community”.

“To the extent they have not done so, single-client counsel must thoroughly understand their client’s business operations and business model regarding data management, storage, protection, and use,” Mr Speelman put forward.

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“Further, they must understand the interface their client has in the overall worldwide internet and the security issues they likely have in accumulating, manipulating, and storing external data … most especially personal data,” he explained.

“Customer or client financial data, banking data, and related internet information must be adequately protected,” the article explained, citing Facebook’s “embarrassing” example as a warning on the point to all counsel.

Mr Speelman said in-house personnel “have an incredibly important function of risk assessment and management,” but a more important function is to advise their organisation (or sole client) “at the highest level”, of developing risks.

“In this function,” he continued, “counsel should seek out natural allies within the client with which to consult.”

“Chief among those is the accounting function,” he explained.

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“Accounting professional standards, just as the Attorney Code of Ethics in the legal profession, create professional standards that give guidance and create the duty to communicate directly to the client (in this case corporations) about risks, both potential and actual, through its leadership.”

In offering advice to in-house counsel, Mr Speelman said: “This process may present professional risks to you. It comes with the territory. Do not shrink from the challenge … embrace it.”

“Yours is not a job … It is an adventure. It is what we do.”

In-house lawyers urged to pay close attention to extraterritorial GDPR disputes
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