Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel Releases an Overview of the New Data Protection Law in South Africa


Johannesburg, South Africa -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/31/2013 -- Pamela Stein, partner at leading South African corporate law firm, Webber Wentzel gives an overview of the Protection of Personal Information Bill which aims to give full effect to the constitutional right to information privacy. The bill was approved by the South African Parliament in 2012 and is expected to be signed into law during 2013.

After seven years of deliberations and numerous reviews, South Africa’s first comprehensive data protection law, the Protection of Personal Information Bill (POPI) was approved by Parliament in September 2012, and is expected to be signed into law during 2013. Thereafter, organisations will have a transitional period of one year to ensure compliance with POPI before its provisions take effect.

POPI regulates every aspect of the processing of personal information, and is based on European data protection law.

The rationale for POPI is to give full effect to the constitutional right to informational privacy, which is a distinct element of the right to privacy protected under the South African Constitution. POPI provides substantive content to this right, by establishing a threshold of minimum conditions for the processing of personal information and providing individuals with rights and remedies to protect their personal information.

The lengthy and detailed deliberations on the Bill have allowed the drafters to draw on the experience of data protection regulation in the European Union (EU), including the recent comprehensive review of EU data protection law which resulted in the Draft Regulation on Data Protection (draft Regulation). A number of proposals in the draft Regulation have been included in the final draft of POPI.

POPI will apply to every person who processes the personal information of another (the responsible party), with some exclusions. Processing in the course of household or personal activity is excluded, as is processing by state bodies involved in crime prevention and national security, cabinet meetings, and where judicial functions are exercised.

A significant exclusion is the processing of personal information which takes place solely for the purpose of journalistic, literary or artistic expression. Interestingly, POPI applies to juristic persons. This is consistent with the approach of the South African Constitutional Court that, although juristic bodies do not have all the personality rights, they do have a right to privacy.

About Webber Wentzel
Webber Wentzel is a leading law firm in Africa, being consistently ranked at the top by a diversity of international ratings agencies in 2012.

The firm has a staff complement of approximately 800 people (including almost 150 partners and more than 450 professionals in a variety of legal disciplines) in offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Its client base includes many of South Africa’s Top 100 companies in banking & finance, insurance & legal liability, media, telecommunications & intellectual property, mining, oil & gas, private equity, and property law.

Webber Wentzel is a full service corporate law firm offering expertise in various legal areas including Dispute Resolution, Mergers & Acquisitions , Project Finance and Tax.

Webber Wentzel’s strategy is to help clients wherever they do business. Work in Africa represents a growing area of practice and, together with a network of best friend law firms; the firm has assisted clients in cross-border deals in most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Webber Wentzel has entered into a collaborative alliance with global law firm, Linklaters, which is recognised for its leading African practice having worked on numerous landmark transactions in almost every country on the continent over the past 30 years. The alliance will see the two firms working closely together for the benefit of clients in Africa.

The firm is also associated with ALN, a group of leading law firms in Africa.

For more information visit http://www.webberwentzel.com/. Follow Webber Wentzel on Twitter: @WebberWentzel.