A data breach is when personal data is accessed, disclosed or destroyed without authorisation, and it can have serious consequences for the individuals affected. Data breach claims can help victims to seek compensation for any harm caused, including financial losses, emotional distress, and damage to their reputation. However, these claims are subject to a time limit known as the limitation period. But what is the limitation for a data breach claim, and how long might you have to bring a claim?
The limitation period is the period within which a claim must be brought before the court or tribunal, after which the claim may be time-barred. In the case of data breach claims, this means that if you don’t bring your claim within the limitation period, you may lose your right to do so. In this guide, we will cover what the limitation period for data breach claims is, when it starts and ends, and what exceptions there may be.
If you believe you may have a data breach claim, it’s important to act quickly to ensure that you don’t miss the deadline for making a claim. Contact our team today to find out more about how long you would have to claim, or to get help from one of our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors.
What Is The Limitation Period For Data Breach Claims In The UK?
To successfully bring a data breach claim, you will need to demonstrate that you have suffered harm as a result of the breach. This harm could include financial losses, emotional distress, or damage to your reputation, among other things. You will also need to show that the organisation responsible for the breach acted wrongfully by failing to protect your personal data in line with their legal obligations and exposing it.
In the UK, data breach claims are governed by a number of different pieces of legislation, including the Data Protection Act 2018, the UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and the Limitation Act 1980.
The Limitation Act 1980 sets out the time limit within which claims must be brought. In the case of data breach claims, this is usually six years from the date of the breach. However, it’s important to note that this time limit may vary depending on the circumstances of your case.
When Does The Limitation Period Start?
The limitation period for data breach claims can start in different ways depending on the circumstances of your case. Here are some examples:
- If you were aware of the breach at the time it occurred, the limitation period would start from that date.
- If you only became aware of the breach at a later date, the limitation period could start from the date you became aware of the breach.
- If the breach was ongoing, the limitation period would start from the date the breach ended.
- If the breach was part of a series of breaches, the limitation period would start from the date of the last breach in the series.
It’s worth noting that in some cases, the limitation period may be extended. In others, it may be shortened.
When Does The Limitation Period End?
In most cases, the limitation period for a data breach claim in the UK is 6 years from the date of the breach. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, which we will cover in the next section.
It is important to note that the limitation period may be extended in cases where the claimant was a child at the time of the breach. In such cases, the limitation period would start on their 18th birthday and end 6 years later, giving them until their 24th birthday to bring a claim.
Exceptions To The Limitation Period For Data Breach Claims
There are some exceptions to the 6-year limitation period for data breach claims in the UK. One of these exceptions is for claims against public bodies. In these cases, the limitation period is much shorter. This shorter time frame is designed to encourage claimants to act quickly when bringing a claim against a public body.
Another exception to the limitation period is for breaches of human rights.
How To Determine If Your Data Breach Claim Is Time-Barred
If you are considering bringing a data breach claim, it is important to be aware of the time limits involved. If you miss the limitation period, your claim may be time-barred, meaning you will no longer be able to bring a claim.
Situations that could lead a claim to be time-barred include waiting too long to take legal action, failing to identify the breach until after the limitation period has ended, or failing to act quickly enough to bring a claim against a public body.
If you are unsure whether your data breach claim is time-barred, an advisor from our team can assess your case and see if one of our panel of data breach solicitors could help you. Our team can also help you understand the time limits involved and what steps you need to take to bring a claim.
What Damages Could I Claim?
If you have successfully pursued a data breach claim, you may be entitled to receive damages. The damages available for data breaches are generally split into two categories: material and non-material damages.
Material damages are the actual losses that a claimant has suffered as a result of the data breach, such as financial loss or identity theft. The UK GDPR states that a claimant is entitled to receive compensation for material damages caused by a data breach, including any loss of profits, loss of business, or other financial losses.
Non-material damages, also known as “distress” damages, are intended to compensate a claimant for any pain, suffering, or emotional distress caused by the data breach. This could include any feelings of anxiety, stress, embarrassment, or other mental anguish that a claimant has suffered as a result of their personal data being breached. In some cases, a claimant may also be able to recover damages for any damage caused to their reputation.
It is important to note that the amount of damages that a claimant is entitled to receive will depend on the specific circumstances of their case. The court will take into account a number of factors, such as the nature of the breach, the severity of the harm suffered, and the financial losses incurred.
Why It’s Important To Act Quickly When Pursuing A Data Breach Claim
It’s important to act quickly when pursuing a data breach claim for several reasons. Firstly, as we’ve mentioned earlier, there is typically a six-year limitation period for data breach claims in the UK, which means that you need to file your claim within six years of the data breach occurring. Secondly, the sooner you start the process, the easier it is to gather evidence, and the stronger your case will be. Evidence such as witness statements, CCTV footage, and computer logs can quickly disappear or become unavailable over time. Lastly, the faster you start the process, the sooner you can receive compensation if your claim is successful.
No Win No Fee Claims For Data Protection Breaches
If you’re holding off because you believe a solicitor would require upfront payment, this may not be the case. At our firm, we work with a panel of solicitors who could take on claims on a No Win No Fee basis under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This means that you won’t have to pay any fees upfront, and if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to pay your solicitor at all. If your claim is successful, the solicitor will take a percentage of your compensation. This is limited by the Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013. Therefore, you’ll always receive the vast majority of the compensation awarded to you.
How to Get Started with a Data Breach Claim
If you believe that you may have a data breach claim, it’s essential to act quickly. The first step is to get in touch with our team to find out more about how long you’d have to claim or to get help from one of our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors. We offer a free initial consultation, during which we’ll assess your case and let you know whether we can help you. If we can help, we’ll assign you a dedicated solicitor from our panel who will guide you through the entire process and work to get you the compensation you deserve.
What Is The Limitation Period For A Data Breach Claim? Further Insight
Now, we’ve given some further links for reading more about data breach claims. We hope you find them useful.
What Is The GDPR And How Does It Impact Data Breach Claims In The UK? – Learn more about the UK GDPR in this guide.
What Evidence Do I Need To Support My Data Breach Claim? – Learn what evidence could be useful in a data breach claim.
Identity Theft – The ICO provides guidance on this important topic.
What Factors Influence The Amount Of Compensation In A Data Breach Case? – Learn about what impacts data breach compensation payouts.
Make A Complaint – Learn how to complain about your data.
Personal Data Breaches – The ICO has produced guidance on personal data breaches here.