Legal annex

There is no overarching law that governs the disclosure of confidential information. The common law and other laws that require or permit the disclosure of patient information interact in complex ways and it is not possible to decide whether a use or disclosure of patient information would be lawful by considering any aspect of the law in isolation.

This section sets out some of the key elements of the law that are relevant to the use and disclosure of patient information, but it is not comprehensive. It is also not intended to be a substitute for independent, up-to-date legal advice. If you are unsure about the legal basis for a request for information, you should ask for clarification from the person making the request and, if necessary, seek independent legal advice.

We have also published a more detailed factsheet, Confidentiality: key legislation, which you can find on our confidentiality guidance page at