You may accept that public bodies, companies, and others hold and use your personal data. It’s the cost of living in modern society. But what happens if your data is misused, disclosed, destroyed, or lost? Data protection claim solicitors can help put things right if you have suffered financially and/or emotionally.
Contact our award-winning lawyers to find out if you can claim compensation for a data protection breach.
Where appropriate, Donoghue Solicitors’ data protection claim experts can help you on a “no win no fee” basis. (Click here to read more about funding your data protection claim.) We have decades of experience in helping people take legal action when their personal data has been mishandled.
Get in touch today by filling out the short online form on this page or call us on 08000 124 246.
Want to know more? Click on the headings below to read some breach of data protection claim frequently asked questions.
What is a data protection breach?
What is personal data?
Who can you claim against for a breach of data protection?
What data protection breaches can Donoghue Solicitors help with?
How much compensation can I claim for a breach of the Data Protection Act?
What time limits apply when suing for a data protection breach?
How do I claim compensation with a data protection lawyer in the UK?
Can I make a no win no fee claim for a breach of data protection?
What law applies to data protection breach compensation claims?
Where can I find more information about Data Protection Act claims?
A data protection breach is a breach of security which occurs when personal data is wrongly accessed, altered, disclosed, destroyed, or lost. Data protection breaches can be accidental and deliberate. They are caused by unauthorised access from either within or outside the data holding organisation.
For example, you may suffer a data protection breach if your personal data is sent to someone in error (e.g. if you witnessed a crime and the police wrongly forwarded your details to the defendant.) It can also be a breach if your personal data is accessed without permission (e.g. by a police officer viewing your details on the Police National Computer for their own improper purposes). The disclosure of incorrect details of criminal convictions to, or from, the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (which carries out the tasks previously performed by the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority), can also lead to a data protection breach.
Personal data is information that relates to an individual. It enables that person to be readily identified or allows them to be indirectly identified when used with other information. It may include special categories of “sensitive data”, such as those relating to criminal convictions.
Personal data includes your:
- Phone number
- Email Address
- National insurance number
- IP address of home computer
- Medical records
- Biometrics (e.g. DNA, fingerprints, photographs, blood sample) – where used for ID purposes).
You may be able to bring a breach of data protection claim against the individual or organisation which has misused/ mishandled your personal data. Defendants include sole traders, companies, and public bodies. In some data protection claims there is more than one potential defendant.
Because we are specialists, we only represent claimants in data protection claims in certain circumstances. Defendants we can help you sue for a breach of data protection include:
- police forces throughout England and Wales
- Criminal, Civil, and Family Courts, and Tribunals (such as Employment and Immigration Tribunals)
- contractors/ suppliers to the justice system (e.g. companies that provide electronic tags, transportation, and detention services)
- HM Government (e.g. for breaches of data protection by the Disclosure and Barring Service, HM Prison Service, NHS providers including GPs and hospitals, and other departments).
We suggest you try the Law Society’s free Find a Solicitor service if your data protection claim involves others.
We can help you with data protection breaches caused by the police and other detaining bodies, the Courts, Government, and contractors/ suppliers to the justice system.
You may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered a financial loss and/or emotional distress. Where appropriate, we can also help you correct the data or have it removed.
Data protection breach claims we helped clients win include:
- An IP address reporting error resulting in an unlawful police raid, false imprisonment, psychological and reputational damage. Our client was awarded £60,000 compensation.
- A serious data protection breach by Kent Police. Our client alleged that she was the victim of domestic abuse by her partner, a Kent police officer. She gave Kent police her mobile phone because it contained video footage to support her allegations. The force downloaded the entire contents of her mobile phone, which contained other sensitive data such as text messages, and sent it all to her partner’s solicitor. The solicitor passed this data to his client. Kent Police paid our client £18,000 damages for this serious breach of data protection law which caused “substantial distress”. We also obtained an order for destruction of the data, a declaration that the police had breached our client’s right to privacy under the Human Rights Act, and an order for her anonymity to be preserved.
- A breach of the Data Protection Act by the police resulting in numerous false arrests, distress, and inconvenience. The Metropolitan Police paid our client £5,000 damages.
- A failure to update the Police National Computer resulting in a wrongful arrest at an airport, for which the police paid our client £1,800 compensation.
- Deleting Police National Computer and biometric data following a successful action against the police for false imprisonment. Our client received compensation and confirmation that data relating to her wrongful arrest was removed from police databases.
- How our Data Protection Solicitors Helped Clients Get More Than £40,000 Compensation. In this case report we show how police wrongfully arrested and detained our clients due to a data protection breach error. The consequences were devastating, personally and professionally. With our help, our clients got an admission of liability, an explanation, and just compensation.
There is no set amount of compensation for a breach of the Data Protection Act. It varies depending on the extent of damage and/or distress caused. Compensation is intended to put the victim in the pre-breach position, so far as possible.
When you instruct us to claim compensation, we will work with you to show the full extent of your losses. They come in two forms: general and special damages. General damages are not easily quantified and include things like emotional damage, distress, and loss of future employment prospects. Special damages can be valued financially, such as lost earnings and travel expenses. (Read more about how solicitors value claims here.) Where appropriate we will instruct experts to help value your claim for a breach of the Data Protection Act.
See the section above (What data protection breaches can Donoghue Solicitors help with?) for real-world examples of how we helped our clients receive the maximum compensation in their Data Protection Act cases.
Please note that we cannot help where you have suffered little, or no, loss or distress despite a data breach. This is because claims that do not satisfy the “de minimis” threshold are unlikely to succeed (see Rolfe -v- Veale Wasbrough Vizards LLP).
Unfortunately, this means that we cannot help unless we value your claim at £5,000 or more.
Strict time limits apply depending on how your case is presented at court when suing for a data protection breach. You have one year less one day to issue proceedings under the Human Rights Act, but six years to issue proceedings under the Data Protection Act 2018.
Expert legal advice is essential because claims often involve overlapping elements. For example, a claim may involve
- a breach of the right to privacy under the Human Rights Act
- negligence causing personal injury and trespass to the person
- misfeasance in public office
- a breach of the Data Protection Act
- misuse of private information.
All these different aspects have their own limitation dates, or time limits by which you must issue proceedings in court. If you miss a time limit for one element of a claim it is usually lost. But you might be able to ask the court for permission to extend the time limit, or to proceed on other heads of claim. Contact us for expert, confidential advice to find out if you can still sue for a data protection breach. Read more about time limits, including how they can be extended, here.
Before you claim compensation with a data protection lawyer in the UK you need to know if you have a valid claim. Because there are many different laws in these claims you should ask the expert lawyers at Donoghue Solicitors.
We specialise in data protection claims involving the police and other detaining bodies, the courts, government, and legal suppliers/contractors. We only deal with claims involving the law in England and Wales. Because we specialise in these areas you can be sure that you will be in good hands.
Click here to find out what we need from you to advise about your right to claim compensation.
Yes, but to bring a “no win no fee” claim for a breach of data protection with us your case must have good prospects, pay legal costs if successful, be brought within time, and your lawyer must be willing to act on a conditional fee basis.
Donoghue Solicitors specialise in breach of data protection cases. Because we specialise in this niche area of law, we often represent our clients under “no win no fee” agreements. No win no fee (or conditional fee) agreements are not for everyone though. Some clients prefer to pay privately. Others use Before the Event insurance. Read all about your funding options and no win no fee claims here.
The Data Protection Act (2018) is the primary legislation relied upon to bring data protection breach compensation claims. Depending on the circumstances, claimants may also refer to the Human Rights Act (1998), the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, other legislation, judge-made case-law, and tort law.
You may have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. This European law forms part of the data protection regime in the UK through the Data Protection Act 2018. The 2018 Data Protection Act updates the 1998 and 2003 Data Protection Acts and, together with the GDPR, covers the rights
- to be informed
- of access
- to rectification
- to be forgotten
- to restrict processing
- to data portability
- to object
- relating to automated decision making and profiling
- to compensation.
Most importantly, under the Data Protection Act 2018 you are now entitled to claim compensation for “contravention of the GDPR” (Paragraph 168) and “other data protection legislation” (Paragraph 169). The law allows for compensation claims for “material or non-material damage”. This means that you can claim damages under the Data Protection Act 2018 for financial loss and/or other losses, such as distress.
You may also rely on other laws depending on the circumstances of your compensation claim. Your lawyer might consider the
- Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997
- Malicious Communications Act 1988
- Communications Act 2003
- Human Rights Act 1998
- other laws.
As well as legislation enacted by Act of Parliament, cases decided at court might also help you prove your data protection breach claim. Recent cases show how the courts interpret the law in this important area, including
- Halliday v Creation Consumer Finance Limited (2013)
- Google Inc v Vidal-Hall, Hann, Bradshaw and the Information Commissioner (2015)
- TLT & Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Home Office (2016).
Parliament-made legislation and judge-made case-law often overlap to help prove data protection breach compensation claims. Depending on your circumstances, you might also seek compensation for the torts of
- false imprisonment
- assault/ battery
You may also sue the police (and/or others) for
- misuse of private information
- misfeasance in public office
- wrongful interference with goods
- breach of confidence
The law in data protection compensation claims is complicated. It is not limited to the Data Protection Act 2018 or the GDPR. It involves many different Acts of Parliament, case-law, and other laws. Because of this we recommend that you contact a specialist solicitor for advice.
Donoghue Solicitors are award-winning experts in Data Protection Act claims, but we can only help if your case is based in England and Wales and involves
- the police and other detaining bodies
- Courts and Tribunals
- contractors/ suppliers to the justice system
- HM Government (for claims against the Disclosure and Barring Service, HM Prison Service, NHS providers including GPs and hospitals, and other departments).
Get in touch today if you want to bring a data protection claim. Contact us on 08000 124 246 or complete the short form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you.