Data breaches have become an increasingly common occurrence in recent years, with numerous high-profile incidents affecting millions of people. A data breach occurs when personal or sensitive information is accessed, disclosed, or stolen without authorisation. This can harm individuals, with consequences that include identity theft, financial loss, or damage to their reputation. Under the Data Protection Act 2018, individuals have the right to claim compensation for wrongful breaches of their data that cause them harm. This includes breaches of confidentiality, security, or any other obligation under the Act. But what is the process for settling a data breach claim?
If you have been affected by a data breach, you may be entitled to compensation for any losses or damages. However, navigating the process of settling a data breach claim can be complex and time-consuming.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the process of settling a data breach claim in the UK. Our guide will cover the key steps involved, from assessing the breach and gathering evidence to negotiating a settlement or taking legal action.
If you have been affected by a data breach and believe you may have a claim, please don’t hesitate to contact our advisors, who are experts in data breach claims, to find out how we can help you.
Can I Claim Compensation For A Data Breach?
If you have been the victim of a data breach in the UK, you may be entitled to claim compensation for any losses or damages you have suffered as a result. However, not all data breaches will result in a successful compensation claim.
To have a valid claim, it is essential to consider the circumstances of the breach and the harm caused. The first step in assessing whether you can claim compensation is to determine whether the wrongful action and negligence of the data controller or processor caused the breach. If so, holding them responsible for any harm caused may be possible.
It is also important to consider the type of harm caused by the breach. This can include financial losses, such as identity theft or fraud, or non-financial losses, such as damage to your reputation or emotional distress.
In the UK, data breach claims are made under the Data Protection Act 2018, which sets out the rights of individuals to claim compensation for harm caused by breaches of their data. This legislation incorporates the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets out strict obligations on data controllers and processors to protect personal data.
A knowledgeable data breach advisor from our helpline can help you assess the strength of your claim and provide guidance on the best course of action to take.
How Long Do I Have To Start The Process For Settling A Data Breach Claim?
In the UK, there are time limits for making a data breach claim, which are set out in the Limitation Act 1980. The time limit for making a claim is generally six years from the date of the breach.
It is important to note that the time limit for making a data breach claim can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, the time limit may be shorter if the claim is being made against a public authority.
Delaying may result in your claim being time-barred and losing your right to seek compensation.
Examples Of Who Could Seek Data Breach Compensation
Here are three hypothetical situations that could result in someone starting the process of settling a data breach claim:
- A company experiences a cyber attack resulting in the theft of customers’ personal information, including names, addresses, and payment card details. As a result, several customers have reported fraudulent transactions on their accounts, and one has suffered significant financial losses. In this case, the affected customers may have a valid claim for compensation based on the company’s failure to protect their personal data adequately.
- An employee of a healthcare provider accesses patient records without authorisation and shares them with a third party. As a result, several patients’ sensitive medical information is disclosed, causing significant embarrassment and distress. The healthcare provider may be held responsible for the breach of confidentiality and the harm caused to the affected patients, who may be entitled to compensation for the breach.
- An online retailer inadvertently publishes customers’ personal information on its website, including names, addresses, and order details. Although the retailer rectifies the issue promptly, several customers are concerned that unauthorised individuals may have accessed their personal information. The affected customers may have a valid claim for compensation based on the retailer’s breach of its obligation to protect their personal data and the anxiety and distress after the breach.
What’s The Process Of Assessing Damages When Settling A Data Breach Claim?
The first step in making a claim is to assess the damages suffered due to the data breach. Damages can include financial losses, such as the cost of identity theft or fraud, and non-financial losses, such as emotional distress or damage to your reputation. It is important to gather evidence of the harm caused, such as receipts or bank statements, medical records or witness statements, as this will help to support your claim.
Once you have assessed the damages, you should contact an advisor who will review the circumstances of the breach and advise you on the strength of your claim. A good data breach lawyer will have experience in dealing with data breach claims and will be able to advise you on the best course of action to take to achieve a successful outcome.
If your claim is strong, your data breach lawyer will help you to prepare a formal letter of claim which will set out the details of the breach, the harm caused, and the amount of compensation you are seeking. Suppose the data controller or processor accepts liability. In that case, your data breach lawyer will negotiate a settlement on your behalf, taking into account the damages suffered and any future losses that may be incurred. If the data controller or processor denies liability, your lawyer will advise you on the best course of action, which may involve issuing court proceedings.
How Much Compensation Could I Get?
The Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) are a set of guidelines that provide a framework for determining the amount of compensation to be awarded in personal injury claims, including claims arising from data breaches. While the JCG is not binding, it is widely used by judges and lawyers as a starting point for calculating damages in non-material cases, such as those involving emotional distress or damage to reputation.
Using the JCG as a starting point, a data breach lawyer can assess the severity of the non-material damages suffered by their client and calculate a fair compensation settlement. While the JCG is not binding, it is considered a reliable and consistent source of guidance on compensation awards in non-material cases. It can be used as evidence in court proceedings to support the calculation of damages. You can see the guideline amounts below. However, these are only very rough estimates. Your compensation would be based on the specifics of your case. You can call an advisor for further guidance on this if you would like.
- Severe PTSD – £59,860 to £100,670
- Moderately severe PTSD – £23,150 to £59,860
- Moderate PTSD – £8,180 to £23,150
- Less Severe PTSD – £3,950 to £8,180
Making A No Win No Fee Claim
If you have suffered damages as a result of a data breach, you may be concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer to help you make a claim for compensation. One option to consider is a No Win No Fee arrangement, also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).
Under a CFA, the lawyer is only paid if the claim is successful, and they typically receive a percentage of the compensation awarded. If the claim is unsuccessful, the client is not required to pay the lawyer’s fees. This can be a useful option for those worried about the cost of legal fees, or who do not have the funds to pay for a lawyer upfront.
It’s worth noting that since the implementation of the Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013, success fees are no longer recoverable from the losing party, so the client is responsible for paying their own success fee if the claim is successful. However, this fee is usually deducted from the compensation awarded, so the client does not have to pay anything out of pocket.
If you are considering making a claim for compensation following a data breach, it’s essential to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Our advisors will offer a free case assessment to determine whether you have a strong claim, and whether a No Win No Fee arrangement is appropriate for your circumstances.
What Is The Process For Settling A Data Breach Claim? Further Guidance
Report A Breach – Finally, the ICO explains how to report a breach of your data.
Can A Data Breach Claim Be Settled Out Of Court? Now, find answers on settling claims out of court.
Make A Data Protection Complaint – Here, you can find information on complaining about the use of your data.
Try A Data Breach Compensation Calculator – Learn how to calculate compensation.
Guidance On Protecting Data – The NCSC provides guidance for businesses.
Data Breach FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions – Finally, get answers to common questions here.