And it smacks to me of the hiding behind the law excuses which has seen an explosion of the " 'elfin safety innit, mate? " brigade.
You know the sort... you have a simple question about something important, has someone done this, has someone said that, has such-and-such a person been in contact with you yet, have you informed such and such a person about this... and you always get one somewhere; one poxy ignoramus who will say "I'm sorry, I can't tell you that because of data protection". I've given YOU the name, you muppet... or I don't need to know the name, just to know if some event has occurred or some contact been made. As far as I'm aware a company as a legal entity, even if it's a sole trader, has no "personal" information status. Or do they?
"Did you receive the payment from Martin Fowler yet?" How's that a breach of any Data Protection, and how can it be different if it's Martin Fowler the individual or Martin Fowler Ltd the solicitor's company?
As for the historical records thing... that is utterly inexcusable. Parish Records, the old Somerset House as it was, wherever it's moved to, Microfiche copies of The Times... are we at risk of entering a new Dark Age?