Legal services

Providing legal advice and guidance for the council.

Our in-house legal department offers expert advice on a full range of council responsibilities and public sector duties. We are absolutely committed to client care and provide high quality, responsive advice to meet the needs of internal and external clients.

We provide specialist customer-focused advice on a range of areas of law, including the following:

  • Major projects
  • Procurement and contracts
  • Property, planning and highways;
  • Housing and Licensing
  • Prosecutions, civil litigation & employment
  • Adult and children’s services
  • Education
  • Administrative and local government law
  • Information law

Our Clients

Legal Services offers an in-house service to all officers and councilors across the Council. This is provided in partnership with the legal teams of East Sussex County Council and West Sussex County Council, who together with this Council’s legal team have formed Orbis Public Law.

We are also available for instruction by other public bodies. We have external clients such as the East Sussex Fire Authority, district councils, local authorities and other local public services.

Contact information

The Executive Lead – Strategy, Governance and Law is Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis, who also acts as the council’s Monitoring Officer.

The service is run by the Head of Legal Services, Elizabeth Culbert, whose email address is

The Data Protection Lead for the Legal Services team is Victoria Simpson, Senior Lawyer

Privacy and Legal Services

Brighton & Hove City Council is a data controller. The Council processes all personal data in accordance with the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 (‘the data protection legislation’).

This privacy notice explains how the Legal Services team retains and processes data. Different services across the Council have their own privacy notices which will apply to the processing of your data, depending on the Council services you use. For example, if your query relates to Housing, the Housing Service privacy notice will apply to the processing of your data.

What sort of information Legal Services hold, why we need it and how we use it

Some of the information which the public (or Legal Services’ external clients) provides to the Council is passed to Legal Services so that we can provide legal advice and representation. That is the purpose for which we hold your data. Without it, we would not be able to provide legal services.

We may process different types of your data, including personal data, special category data and criminal offence data. What these mean is explained below:

  • The types of personal data we hold includes names, addresses and dates of birth as well as biographical, professional, financial and social information about residents, members of the public, elected members, and experts instructed for the purposes of providing legal advice and representation.
  • We will also process data with additional sensitivity, known as special category data. This includes information regarding your race, ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, sex life or sexual orientation.
  • In limited circumstances we will process data relating to criminal convictions and offences, for example in relation to safeguarding inquiries

Why we process the data we hold

We only process your data in accordance with the principles of data protection legislation and to the extent necessary to deliver legal services. We will ensure that we have the appropriate lawful justification (or ‘lawful bases’) under the UK GDPR and DPA 2018 before processing your personal information.

We rely on one or more of the following reasons, or lawful bases, to process your personal data:

  • to perform our public functions as a local authority
  • to assist other government organisations with performing their public functions
  • to perform a contract which you have entered into with us
  • to comply with a legal obligation that we are subject to

We rely on the lawful bases above together with one of more of these additional reasons, or lawful bases, to process special category data:

  • processing is in the substantial public interest
  • processing is necessary to establish, exercise or defend a legal claim
  • processing is necessary in the area of public health
  • processing is necessary to provide health or social care

We will only process data relating to criminal offences and convictions where there are lawful bases for the processing as above, and in addition the processing is either under the control of official authority or is authorised by law.

Who your information may be shared with

Generally, the information we hold will have been provided to us by you, by Council staff or by our external clients. However, we may also hold information provided by third parties where this is relevant and necessary for the provision of our legal service e.g. social workers, health professionals, doctors, occupational therapists and enforcement and regulatory agencies such as the police.

Access to the personal information we hold about you is restricted to other parties on a need to know basis. We treat your personal information lawfully, fairly and transparently, and ensure that it is:

  • processed for limited purposes
  • kept up-to-date, accurate, relevant and that the information we collect is not excessive (more than we need)
  • not kept longer than is necessary
  • kept secure

Where we need to share information about you, we do so under data-sharing arrangements which comply with data protection legislation. We may share legal work with other local authority legal teams, including those which together with Brighton and Hove City Council form Orbis Public Law. This allows them to provide legal advice instead of us. We do so only under strict data sharing arrangements which safeguard your data in compliance with data sharing legislation.

We may also be required to share your information with our regulators who are permitted access to this information by law, and/or with other organisations where we have a legal obligation to share the information with them. This may include our insurers or external auditors.

Where we are required to share data including data relating to criminal convictions with the police, we have procedures to ensure this is carried out in a secure and confidential manner, with each incident of sharing reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Finally, where we need to instruct external lawyers or experts, or where we use external software or systems to deliver our service, we will do so securely ensuring that the other party is contractually required to adhere

to the security requirements imposed by data protection legislation. They will only be able to use your information to the extent that they need to do so to complete work on our behalf.

How long we keep your information, and how we protect it

We store all the personal data we process in accordance with file retention and destruction arrangements. We will dispose of all personal data securely once there is no longer a lawful basis for retaining it. How long we retain personal data depends on the type of data, the reason it is processed and what the law says. Information on the retention periods applicable to the category of personal data your data falls within, is available from Legal Services on request.

The Council has put in place robust security measures to ensure that all personal data is retained securely. Further information regarding that is available from

Your information rights

Under data protection legislation, you have the right:

  • To be informed regarding why, where and how we use your information.
  • To request access to the information we hold about you.
  • To have your information corrected if it is inaccurate or incomplete.
  • To ask for your information to be deleted or removed where there is no need for us to continue processing it.
  • To ask us to restrict the use of your information.
  • To ask us to copy or transfer your information from one IT system to another in a safe and secure way, without impacting the quality of the information.
  • To object to how your information is used.

Please visit Data Subject Rights for details of how to access your information rights. If you have any additional queries then please send an email to

The Council’s Data Protection Officer

The Council has appointed a Data Protection Officer, which it shares with East Sussex and Surrey County Council. The Data Protection Officer has a key role in helping the Council ensure compliance with relevant legislation. The Council’s Data Protection Officer acts as an escalation point for data subjects, as well as being a point of contact for the ICO.

The Council’s Data Protection Office may be contacted vis this link:


If you wish to complain about how your information is being used then please contact in the first instance so that we can try to address your query.

If having complained you are still unhappy with the outcome of your enquiry then you may write to The Information Commissioner at  Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, or email them via links on their website.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) website is also a useful source of further advice for further information about Information Rights and other aspects of data protection law. Their website is here: Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) website.

May 2021