Data breaches are becoming increasingly common in the UK, with more and more individuals and businesses falling victim to cyber attacks. A data breach can have serious consequences, including financial loss, reputational damage, and even identity theft. If you have suffered a data breach, it’s important to understand your legal rights and the potential remedies available to you.In this guide, we will explore the question of ‘what are they key legal principles in data breach claims in the UK?’. We will explain what constitutes a data breach, the legal obligations of data controllers, and the legal remedies available to individuals and businesses affected by a breach. We will also discuss recent developments in data breach law, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Our advisors can provide you with free legal advice and assistance in pursuing a claim. If you have been the victim of a data breach and would like to discuss your options, you can contact us at any time. There are several ways to reach an advisor:
Key Legal Principles In Data Breach Claims – What Is Personal Data?
One of the key legal principles in data breach claims is understanding what constitutes personal data. Personal data is any information that relates to an identifiable individual, either on its own or in combination with other information. This can include a person’s name, address, date of birth, and other identifying details.
Under UK law, the definition of personal data has been expanded to include information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and location data. This means that even seemingly innocuous information can be considered personal data if it can be used to identify an individual.
Data controllers, such as businesses and organisations, have a legal obligation to keep personal data secure and to ensure that it is only used for lawful purposes.
If you have suffered a data breach, you may be entitled to compensation for any financial loss you have suffered, as well as damages for distress. It’s important to seek legal advice from a qualified data breach solicitor to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
What Is A Data Breach?
Understanding what constitutes a data breach and how it can happen is essential in protecting your personal data and rights.
A data breach occurs when personal data is accessed, stolen, or destroyed without authorisation. This can happen in a variety of ways, including through hacking, phishing, malware, or physical theft of devices or documents. It can also occur through human error, such as accidentally sending an email to the wrong recipient.
Under UK law, data controllers have a legal obligation to keep personal data secure and to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to prevent data breaches. They must also notify affected individuals as soon as possible in the event of a breach.
Examples Of Data Breaches
To claim compensation for a data breach, the harm you’ve suffered from exposure of your personal data must have been caused by the wrongful actions of the data controller. Below, we explain what could cause such a breach. Please note, these are only hypothetical examples.
- Inadequate security measures – A data controller fails to implement adequate security measures to protect personal data, resulting in a cyber attack that compromises the personal data of thousands of individuals. The breach leads to financial loss and identity theft for the affected individuals.
- Unlawful sharing of personal data: A data controller unlawfully shares personal data with a third party without the consent of the individual, resulting in the individual receiving unwanted marketing materials or suffering reputational damage.If you believe you could have a claim, speak to an advisor today. They could assess your case free of charge.
Legal Principles – Why Don’t All Data Breaches Lead To Claims
Not all data breaches lead to claims, as there are several key legal principles that must be satisfied for a successful data breach claim.
Firstly, there must be a duty of care owed by the data controller to the individual. This means that the data controller must have a legal obligation to protect the personal data of the individual.
Secondly, there must be a breach of that duty of care. This means that the data controller must have failed to implement appropriate measures to protect personal data, or must have otherwise breached their legal obligations in relation to personal data.
Thirdly, the breach must have caused harm to the individual. This harm can take many forms, including financial loss, identity theft, and distress.
Finally, the harm suffered must be causally linked to the breach. This means that the harm must have been directly caused by the breach, and would not have occurred otherwise.
If all of these elements are present, an individual may be able to pursue a data breach claim against the data controller. However, if any of these elements are missing, a claim may not be successful.
Key Legal Principles In Data Breach Claims – What Damages Could I Claim?
If you have been the victim of a data breach, you may be entitled to claim compensation for the damages you have suffered. The damages that you can claim will depend on the specific circumstances of the breach, as well as the harm that you have suffered as a result.
Some of the damages that you may be able to claim in a data breach claim include:
- Financial loss – If the breach has led to financial loss, such as through fraud or identity theft, you may be able to claim compensation for this loss.
- Emotional distress – If the breach has caused you to suffer emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression, you may be able to claim compensation for this harm.
- Loss of privacy – If the breach has led to a loss of privacy, such as the disclosure of sensitive personal information, you may be able to claim compensation for the intrusion into your private life.
- Damage to reputation – If the breach has caused damage to your reputation, such as through the disclosure of embarrassing personal information, you may be able to claim compensation for the harm caused.
Evidencing The Damage Caused
Compensation for damages in data breach claims is typically awarded based on the harm that has been caused.
There are various types of evidence that may be used to prove the damage caused by a data breach, including:
- Financial records – If you have suffered financial loss as a result of the breach, such as through fraud or identity theft, you should keep any relevant financial records that demonstrate the extent of the loss.
- Medical records – If the breach has caused you to suffer emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression, you may need to provide medical records that demonstrate the extent of the harm caused.
- Witness statements: Witnesses who have observed the harm caused by the data breach may be able to provide statements that can be used as evidence in your claim.
- Expert reports: In some cases, expert reports may be necessary to demonstrate the extent of the harm caused by the breach.
Key Principles When Calculating Non Material Damages In Data Breach Claims
The Judicial College Guidelines are a set of guidelines that can be used by legal professionals in England and Wales to calculate compensation for non-material damages, including psychological harm such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The guidelines provide a range of potential compensation amounts based on the severity of the harm suffered, and take into account factors such as the duration of the symptoms and the impact on the individual’s daily life. The Judicial College Guidelines relating to PTSD can be seen below:
- Moderately Severe – £23,150 to £59,860
- Severe -£59,860 to £100,670
- Moderate -£8,180 to £23,150
- Less Severe – £3,950 to £8,180
It is important to note, however, that the guidelines are only a rough estimate and are not a guarantee of the compensation that will be awarded. Each case is unique, and the compensation amount will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.
Key Legal Principles Behind No Win No Fee Agreements For Data Breach Claims
Conditional fee agreements (CFAs) are a popular way for individuals to pursue data breach claims without having to worry about the financial risks involved in getting professional assistance when bringing a claim. In a CFA, the solicitor agrees to represent the client without charging upfront. Instead, the solicitor will only receive payment if the client’s claim is successful, in the form of a capped percentage of the compensation awarded.
The key legal principle behind these agreements is access to justice. By removing the financial barriers to pursuing a claim, individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford legal representation can still have their rights protected and receive compensation for the harm caused by a data breach.
Contact us today on 0800 408 7827 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert advisors, or live chat to learn more about our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors who could assist with data breach claims.
Further Insight Into Legal Principles In Data Breach Claims
How Long Do I Have To Make A Data Breach Claim In The UK? – Learn about limitation periods.
Finding The Best Data Breach Solicitors – Choosing solicitors can be tricky. Learn more about this here.
A Guide To Data Breach Compensation Law – More insight into the law covering data security.
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – Data regulation principles.
Ministry of Justice (MOJ) – Guidance on the Data Protection Act..
National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – Guidance on data breaches.