Data breaches have become increasingly common in the digital age, and can have serious consequences for individuals and organisations alike. From financial loss to reputational damage, the impact of a data breach can be far-reaching. Fortunately, there are legal remedies available to those who have suffered as a result of a data breach. This guide will provide an overview of how to claim compensation for a data security breach in the UK, including what a data breach is, the types of compensation available, and the process for making a claim.
If you have questions about your own case, or would like to be connected with a data breach solicitor who could assist you, please contact an advisor today. We’re here to help.
What Is A Data Security Breach?
A data breach is any incident in which sensitive, confidential, or personal information is accessed, disclosed, or stolen by unauthorised individuals or organisations. Examples of data breaches include hacking, phishing attacks, employee error, and physical theft of data storage devices. Data breaches can occur in any sector or industry, and can impact individuals, businesses, and governments alike. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organisations that suffer a data breach must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours, and individuals affected by the breach must also be informed in a timely manner.
How Can A Data Security Incident Expose My Personal Data?
A data security incident can occur when an organisation’s systems are breached, allowing unauthorised access to personal data. This can happen in a number of ways, such as through hacking, phishing, or other forms of cyber-attack. It can also happen due to employee error or malicious insiders.
Different organisations can be vulnerable to data security incidents. For example, banks may be targeted by cybercriminals seeking to steal financial information, such as credit card details or bank account numbers. Mobile app developers may accidentally expose user data if they fail to properly secure their systems or if they collect more data than is necessary.
Government agencies may also be vulnerable to data security incidents, particularly if they handle sensitive information such as tax records or national security data. Similarly, healthcare providers may be targeted by hackers seeking to steal patient data, such as medical histories, diagnoses, and treatment plans.
In each of these scenarios, personal data can be exposed due to weaknesses in an organisation’s systems or processes. For example, a bank may fail to properly encrypt customer data, making it vulnerable to hackers. A mobile app developer may collect too much data from users, increasing the risk of a data breach. Government agencies or healthcare providers may have outdated systems or insufficient security protocols in place, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Ultimately, any organisation that handles personal data is at risk of a data security incident. It is therefore crucial for organisations to take steps to protect their systems and the personal data they hold, such as implementing strong security measures and regularly testing their systems for vulnerabilities.
How To Claim Compensation For A Data Breach
If you have suffered harm as a result of a data breach, the first step in making a compensation claim is to gather evidence of the breach and the harm it has caused. This may include emails, letters, bank statements, and any other relevant documents. It is also important to keep a record of any expenses or losses you have incurred as a result of the breach.
Once you have gathered evidence, the next step is to find a specialist data breach solicitor to represent you. A solicitor can help you assess the strength of your case, determine the appropriate amount of compensation to claim, and guide you through the data breach claims process. It is important to choose a solicitor with experience in data breach cases, as these can be complex and require specialised knowledge.
After engaging a solicitor, they will help you prepare and submit a compensation claim to the organisation responsible for the data breach. This claim will typically include details of the breach, the harm it has caused, and the amount of compensation being sought. The organisation will then have a specified amount of time to respond to the claim and either accept liability or contest the claim.
If liability is accepted, the organisation will typically negotiate a settlement with your solicitor. If liability is contested, the case may go to court, where a judge will determine the appropriate amount of compensation to be awarded.
Understanding Data Breach Compensation
If you have suffered harm as a result of a data breach, you may be entitled to claim compensation. There are several types of compensation that may be available, including:
- Material damages: This refers to any direct financial losses you have suffered as a result of the data breach, such as bank fees, identity theft expenses, and lost wages.
- Non-material damages: This refers to any emotional distress, anxiety, or other psychological harm you have suffered as a result of the data breach. This type of compensation can be difficult to quantify, but may be available in cases where the breach has caused significant harm.
Calculating the appropriate amount of compensation for a data breach claim can be complex, as it will depend on a range of factors including the type of harm suffered, the severity of the breach, and the financial losses incurred. In general, compensation for a data breach will be calculated based on the following factors:
- The nature and extent of the breach
- The level of harm suffered, both material and non-material
- Any expenses or losses incurred as a result of the breach
- The impact of the breach on your daily life and activities
Calculating Psychological Injury Compensation
Determining the appropriate amount of compensation for a data breach can be a complex process. Legal professionals typically refer to the Judicial College Guidelines, which provide a framework for calculating non-material damages in data breach claims. Examples can be found below:
- Severe psychological harm – £54,830 to £115,730
- Moderately severe psychological harm – £19,070 to £54,830
- Moderate psychological harm – £5,860 to £19,070
- Less severe psychological harm – £1,540 to £5,860
Although the Guidelines are not binding, they can be a useful reference point for legal professionals when determining the appropriate amount of compensation for their clients. It is important to note that these figures only represent non-material damages, and compensation may also be available for material losses such as financial expenses incurred due to the data breach. Legal professionals can use their expertise and experience to build a strong case for their clients and ensure they receive fair compensation for the harm they have suffered.
How Long Does It Take To Claim Compensation For A Data Security Breach?
The length of time it takes to claim compensation for a data breach will depend on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the organisation responsible for the breach to accept liability.
If the organisation responsible for the data breach accepts liability and agrees to a settlement, the process can be relatively quick. However, if liability is contested or the case goes to court, the process can be more time-consuming and may require additional evidence gathering and legal representation.
Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) And No Win No Fee claims
One of the options available for funding a compensation claim for a data breach is a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), also known as a No Win No Fee agreement. A CFA is a legal agreement between you and your solicitor, in which the solicitor agrees to provide legal services without charging you any fees upfront. Instead, the solicitor’s fees are contingent upon the outcome of the case. If the case is successful, the solicitor’s fees will be paid by the organisation responsible for the data breach from the compensation awarded. If the case is unsuccessful, you will not be required to pay any legal fees to your solicitor.
No Win No Fee claims can be a useful option for those who may not have the financial resources to pay for legal fees upfront.
Before entering into a CFA, it is important to carefully review the terms of the agreement with your solicitor and ensure that you understand the potential costs involved. Your solicitor should provide you with a clear breakdown of their fees and the percentage of your compensation that will be payable to them if your case is successful.
Start Your Claim
If you believe you may have a claim for data breach compensation, get in touch with a legal advisor today to discuss your options and take the first step towards getting the justice you deserve.
Further Information On Data Security Breach Claims
Try A Data Breach Compensation Calculator – Learn about compensation here.
Data Breach FAQs – Find answers to data breach questions here.
What Is The Limitation Period For A Data Breach Claim? – Learn how long you’d have to claim.
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – Data security guide.
UK Government – Learn how to report a breach
National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – Guidance on data security.