With one of the biggest and most well-known teams in Europe, Bristows is the go-to firm for pragmatic, expert-informed data protection advice. Our clients rely on us for guidance on a huge range of data protection issues, with our recommendations always rooted in pragmatism and what will actually work for their business.

Our work is nearly always international, and we are constantly working with our network of overseas data protection counsel to provide a truly global perspective on the law.

We specialise in developing practical and proportionate compliance programmes for organisations, large and small. We have considerable expertise in building GDPR programmes, typically for global companies looking to apply GDPR as their standard internationally. 

We also help companies ensure that specific technology-based products and services meet legal requirements at all stages of development. We have an impressive understanding of how technology works at a data level and are regularly asked to advise on issues such as AI and machine learning, adtech, facial recognition, digital health, app development and cloud computing.

International data transfers are amongst our clients’ biggest concerns, and we are constantly advising organisations on how to ensure their internal and external data flows are lawful, based on the US Privacy Shield and EU Standard Clauses.  We also have a specialty in developing Binding Corporate Rules for both controllers and processors, and have drafted and negotiated BCRs for some of the world’s largest most well-known companies, with the ‘lead authority’ in the UK, France, Germany or the Netherlands. 

Data subjects’ rights are now something that nearly every business needs to understand and comply with efficiently, and we are experienced at making this happen.  We frequently help our clients to respond to complex requests, whether this involves advising on the best approach or taking the drafting on ourselves.  Alongside this, we focus on developing strategies and training so that organisations can take as much ownership of the response process as they would like, and feel confident about complying with their legal obligations.

Key contacts

Mark Watts

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Marc Dautlich

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Robert Bond

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Experience

We have developed and assisted to implement over two hundred GDPR compliance programmes to date. While most of these were global in scope or at least Europe-wide, some were domestic and for smaller UK organisations. Our work involves a full end-to-end service, including information gathering, programme development and deployment, including training and the creation of various governance structures.

We are advising several leading adtech providers and publishers in connection with achieving a good and pragmatic level of compliance with both GDPR and ePrivacy within the Adtech ecosystem. This involves understanding complex technology issues such as ‘real-time bidding’ and ‘header bidding’ at a data-level and determining both the parties’ respective roles – as controller or processor – but also identifying an appropriate lawful basis.

We have had numerous Binding Corporate Rules approved by EU data protection authorities, including for controllers and processors. We did so liaising with ‘lead authorities’ and ‘second reviewers’ across the EU, and for one global multinational have done this in a manner consistent with the APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules.

We advise several of the world’s leading developers of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. This includes advising them on their responsibilities with respect to using personal data to train algorithms in a variety of different contexts, including health and medical image data, developing adtech solutions, natural language processing and real-time intrusion detection.

We have advised several manufacturers of Smart TVs and other ‘connected home’ IOT technologies in connection with the deployment of facial recognition, speech-to-text processing, ePrivacy considerations and cross-device advertising.

We are regularly asked to advise on whether and how GDPR applies to companies all over the world which are not established in the EU. This requires us to understand their international business and whether they can be considered as ‘targeting’ or selling goods and services to individuals in the EU. Where GDPR does apply, we have assisted companies in developing mitigation and compliance strategies.

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What others say

“A leading destination for advice with regard to digital health and medtech, and associated data privacy issues.”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“The firm is top-notch in the privacy field”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“It is a very good outfit and very reliable”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“The team’s work product tends to be very focused on the ultimate needed output. They really get to the heart of a matter”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“Enjoys a reputation as a go-to practice for cross-border privacy disputes and regulatory concerns.”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“Extremely experienced and accomplished solicitors”

Chambers and Partners 2020

“The team is pragmatic in its approach and fields top negotiators. It helps in all areas of doing the deal, from the drafting, negotiation and giving information for briefings and governance.”

Legal 500 2020

“The team is flexible in its approach, and its understanding of the constraints of budget and time. It fields lawyers that you would introduce to your business stakeholders.”

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows has a strong team, which is proactive and balanced, and a pleasure to work with.”

Legal 500 2020

‘superb commercial acumen’

Legal 500 2020

“a well-rounded and pragmatic team with excellent skills”

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows has relevant experience related to PSD2 compliance and provides concrete and practical advice on how to navigate these rules.”

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows have a clear understanding of the technology in the sector and specifically the fintech/insurtech market.”

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows fields a first-rate privacy and data protection practice, which is knowledgeable, responsive and client focused.”

Legal 500 2020

“Bristows is a go-to firm for privacy and data protection matters. It provides on-time, risk-based legal advice and problem-solving.”

Legal 500 2020

“the practice excels in high-profile and international work”

Legal 500 2020

“The experienced data protection team at Bristows LLP frequently handles complex compliance and strategic matters as well as investigations, breaches and contentious issues.”

Legal 500 2019

“They’re smart, pragmatic and have a spectrum of clients, so they give very thoughtful, useful advice with an eye across many industries”

Chambers and Partners 2019

“They are strong on both the technology and commercial sides owing to their powerful IP and data capabilities.”

Chambers and Partners 2019

They are particularly distinctive in their market and technology knowledge, as well as their creative and practical approach.

Chambers and Partners 2019

“Bristows LLP ‘stands out as a client-focused firm that goes the extra mile to understand its clients’ commercial needs'”

Legal 500 2019

“Recent additions to both bench and client roster further strengthen an already top-drawer offering”.

Chambers and Partners 2019

“Their technical expertise is fantastic – they really know their stuff.”

Chambers and Partners 2015

“I think they’re top-notch. They have an ability to get what the client’s business interest is, and focus on the issues clearly and keenly.”

Chambers and Partners 2015

“Bristows is undoubtedly a market leader in data privacy, with a long pedigree in this area of work, a strong roster of clients and excellent lawyers in the field.”

Chambers and Partners 2015

“The team offers broad sector expertise with a focus on emerging, innovative technology. Known for its close working relationships with in-house counsel, strong client list, and ability to handle complex technical matters.”

Chambers and Partners 2015

“Full-service provision including coverage of cloud computing, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) matters, healthcare and public sector data management. Particularly strong in litigation. Offers specific expertise in data protection concerning technology innovations.”

Chambers and Partners 2015

“Bristows LLP has a ‘top-drawer’ practice that acts for Google in ‘right to be forgotten’ cases and assists Dropbox with various issues on a Europe-wide basis. It also advises Sony on product launches and cyber-security issues and acts for mining company BHP Billiton on compliance. Mark Watts is ‘whip-smart, experienced, practical and ethical’.”

Legal 500 2015

Recent rankings and awards

Data protection, privacy and cybersecurity - Top tier
Legal 500 UK 2020

IT and Telecoms - Top tier
Legal 500 UK 2020

Fintech - Tier 3
Legal 500 UK 2020

Data Protection - Band 1
Chambers and Partners UK 2020

IT - Band 1
Chambers and Partners UK 2020

Outsourcing - Band 2 
Chambers and Partners UK 2020

Data Protection - Band 3
Chambers and Partners Global 2020

Data Protection - Band 3
Chambers and Partners Europe 2019