What Is A Data Protection Breach?

This guide aims to explore what a data protection breach is and when you may be eligible to claim following a breach of your personal data. In cases where an organisation’s failings have caused your personal data to become compromised, leading to you experiencing financial loss or mental harm, you may be able to claim data breach compensation.

what is a data protection breach

A guide on what a data protection breach is

We will explore what personal information could be involved in a breach and examples of how a breach could occur.

Furthermore, we will explore the steps you could take should a data breach occur, including the evidence you could gather to support your potential claim. 

If you need any further clarification on anything of which you’re unsure, please get in touch with our team by:

Choose A Section

  1. What Is A Data Protection Breach? – Guidance On Making A Claim
  2. Explaining Data Breaches
  3. Examples Of What A Data Protection Breach Is
  4. Estimating The Data Breach Compensation You Could Get
  5. Why Should You Use A No Win No Fee Lawyer?
  6. Additional Information On What A Data Protection Breach Is

What Is A Data Protection Breach? – Guidance On Making A Claim

Two main pieces of legislation are responsible for governing the processing of personal data for those that reside in the UK. These are the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) which works in conjunction with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). The DPA was updated when the UK left the European Union.

Together, they outline the responsibilities an organisation has to protect your personal data. If an organisation fails to adhere to data protection law, it could lead to a personal data breach.

For example, you might register as a new member a gym using personal information, for instance, your email, address, phone number and bank account details. The gym is responsible for ensuring the data you have given them is secure and used in the correct way. Failure to comply with the rules, whether accidental or deliberate, could result in a data protection breach.

For more information on whether you’re eligible to seek compensation, get in touch on the number above.

Explaining Data Breaches

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), a data breach is a security incident that has affected the confidentiality, integrity or availability of personal data. This involves both digital and physical personal data.

There are different types of data breaches, such as cyber and non-cyber security incidents. 

Cyber security incidents can include ransomware attacks. For example, an organisation could fail to keep their cyber security systems up to date making them more susceptible to hackers. 

A non-cyber security incident could include human error data breaches, such as the failure to lock physical records away resulting in someone unauthorised gaining access. 

The UK GDPR sets out specific principles for organisations to follow when processing data to prevent a breach of your personal information. However, if they fail to uphold these principles, it could lead to your personal data becoming compromised. This could affect you in various ways, such as financially and mentally. 

However, you could seek compensation for the ways in which the breach has impacted your life. For more information on seeking compensation following a data protection breach, call us.

Examples Of What A Data Protection Breach Is

Personal data is considered as any information that could be used to identify you. This could include a person’s home or email address, name, date of birth or personal details relating to your finances such as bank account details. 

There is also more sensitive data that requires more protection. This is known as special category data and can include data relating to your health, race or ethnicity or trade union membership.

There are a variety of ways in which personal data could be compromised. We have included some examples below:

  • A staff member may have sent an email to you containing information about a hospital appointment for a specific test to the wrong person.
  • An organisation may have failed to provide adequate data protection training to their employees. As a result, an employee may have incorrectly disposed of paperwork containing your credit card information.

Stats For ICO Data Breaches

According to the ICO’s data security incident trends, there were 2,172 incidents reported in Quarter four of 2021/2022. Of these, 1,696 were non-cyber incidents and 476 were cyber incidents. 

The most impacted sector was health with 427 cyber and non-cyber security incidents. This was closely followed by the education sector with 360 cyber and non-cyber security incidents.

Estimating The Data Breach Compensation You Could Get

A successful data breach compensation claim could include:

  • Material damages: These compensate for the monetary losses you experienced due to the personal data breach. For example, if you have had your credit card details stolen, this could mean loans have been taken out impacting your credit score and leaving you in debt.
  • Non-material damages: These compensate for the psychological injuries you have suffered due to the personal data breach. This could include stress and anxiety. In more severe cases, it could include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

You could previously only claim compensation for psychological harm if you were also claiming for financial losses. However, you can now seek compensation for mental harm without also claiming for financial losses.

To accurately value how much you could receive for psychological injuries under non-material damages, legal professionals can refer to a document called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This contains a list of injuries with corresponding compensation brackets. We have included the figures in the table below but you should only use them as a guide.

Injury SeverityCompensation BracketDetails
General Psychiatric DamageSevere£54,830 to £115,730A very poor prognosis.
General Psychiatric DamageModerately Severe£19,070 to £54,830Significant problems coping with life, education or work with the potetntial for future vulnerability.
General Psychiatric DamageModerate£5,860 to £19,070Despite having some problems coping with life, education or work, there will have been a significant improvement and the prognosis will be good.
General Psychiatric DamageLess Severe£1,540 to £5,860Compensation will be based on the time period of disability and the extent to which day-to-day activities and sleep were impacted.
Anxiety DisorderSevere£59,860 to £100,670All aspects of the person's life will be affected badly.
Anxiety DisorderModerately Severe£23,150 to £59,860Professional help allows for some recovery and a better prognosis.
Anxiety DisorderModerate£8,180 to £23,150The ongoing symptoms won’t be particularly disabling and the person will have significantly recovered.
Anxiety DisorderLess Severe£3,950 to £8,180A near full recovery has been made within 1-2 years.

To find out more about compensation for a data breach, call our team. They can also provide guidance on steps you can take following a data protection breach.

Why Should You Use A No Win No Fee Lawyer?

There are several different agreements that come under the term No Win No Fee. The solicitors from our panel offer their services under one called a Conditional Fee Agreement.

Under this agreement, you won’t pay for your solicitor’s services if your claim is unsuccessful. It also means that there will not be any fees to pay your solicitor upfront or whilst your claim is ongoing. 

However, a portion of your compensation will be deducted as a percentage if your claim is successful. This is known as a success fee and is legally capped.

Ask Us, “What Is A Data Protection Breach?”

If you have a valid claim, our specialist team might put you in touch with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel. To find out more you can speak with an advisor. They can also provide further clarification on what a data protection breach is. 

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Additional Information On What A Data Protection Breach Is

Below, we have provided some additional resources that you may find beneficial.

Other Data Breach Claim Guides

We hope this guide has answered your question ‘what is a data protection breach?’. However, if you have any other questions, please get in touch on the number above.

Writer Brett Pace

Editor Meg Moon