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Law Society drops Lord Harley redaction clanger

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Technology confounds solicitor profession chiefs as confidential elements of Blacker case are easily accessed

Lead

The murky world of technology is littered with nasty bear traps — and the Law Society has just fallen into a big one.

Earlier today, Legal Cheek reported on the latest instalment in the Lord Harley of Counsel saga, which included references to a ruling from the society’s freedom of information adjudicator.

Chancery Lane officials decided to redact part of that adjudication — and that is when a modern world glitch bit them in the bum.

In the old days of paper, the Law Society’s lawyers could have simply brought to bear the power of a black felt marker pen. Several applications would probably have done the trick.

However, in the digital world, life isn’t that simple. As one Legal Cheek commentator pointed out, simply applying the redaction overlay is not enough. Unless the actual text is deleted, the words can be seen when the overlay is highlighted.

In this case, it is difficult at first glance to see why the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority were so keen to keep the redacted text confidential, as when revealed, it hardly sets the pulse racing.

The most interesting discovery unearthed by the tech tip from our reader is that the Law Society has 14 days to cough up the information the adjudicator has recommended be made public.

However, as the adjudicator pointed out, his rulings are only advisory and can be ignored by the powers that be.

Previously:

Solicitors Regulation Authority says sorry to Lord Harley for ‘causing distress’ [Legal Cheek]