In this guide, we will explain the action you could take should a government data breach occur and involve your personal information. When your personal data is compromised, it could cause you to suffer psychological injuries and financial losses. For this harm, you may be eligible to receive compensation.
There are two central pieces of legislation in place to govern the use and storage of personal data:
Together, the UK GDPR and the DPA outline rules on how and why personal data is to be processed by controllers and processors. Controllers determine the means and purposes of processing personal information, and sometimes they outsource this processing to a data processor, who acts on their behalf. The failure to adhere to data protection laws by either a controller or processor could lead to a data breach.
Continue reading this article to learn what a personal data breach is and the impact that it could have on a person’s quality of life. Also, we will provide insight into the evidence you could obtain to strengthen a claim.
Please contact us at Data Breach Law for a free assessment of your claim. Our team of advisors are available 24/7 to provide free legal advice and can help you to determine whether you could be eligible to receive data breach compensation.
Choose A Section
- Can You Claim For A Government Data Breach? – A Guide
- What Is A Government Data Breach?
- What Evidence Could Help You Make A Data Breach Claim?
- Data Breach Payout – What Compensation Could You Receive?
- Why Use Our Panel Of Data Breach Solicitors On A No Win No Fee Basis?
- Learn More About Claiming For A Government Data Breach
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), a UK body responsible for upholding information rights, provides a useful definition of a breach. A personal data breach means a security incident that allows your personal data’s integrity, availability, and confidentiality to become compromised.
There are various kinds of personal data that the government or governmental bodies could hold on you. Examples of these can include:
Article 9 of the UK GDPR covers the processing of special category data, which is of a more sensitive nature and requires extra protection. This includes data concerning health, such as medical records, your trade union membership and sexual orientation.
Therefore, to be eligible to make a data breach claim, your personal information must have been compromised in a breach due to failings on the part of the data controller or processor to comply with data protection laws. It also must have led to you suffering either financial or psychological damage.
Please speak to one of our advisors to learn what action you could take should a government data breach occur and compromise your personal information.
There are various causes that could lead to a data breach. As long as the breach is caused by wrongful conduct, then you may be able to claim compensation. Some examples of this can include:
- A governmental body sends a letter containing personal data to the wrong address.
- A batch email is sent out, but the sender fails to use the BCC feature, exposing the email addresses of fellow recipients.
- Your personal data is compromised as part of a hack due to the government’s failure to implement adequate cybersecurity measures.
- An employee falls for a phishing scam due to a lack of training, and this allows cybercriminals to access your personal data.
If a government data breach occurs and involves your personal data, please speak to a member of our team for advice.
If you suspect a data breach involving your personal information has occurred or an organisation has contacted you to notify you of a breach, there are steps you can take. Firstly, complain to the organisation directly and enquire about the breach. Then, if their response is unsatisfactory, you can complain to the ICO, who cannot award compensation but may investigate the breach.
To pursue a personal data breach claim, it is your responsibility to prove that those responsible for keeping your personal data safe in accordance with the law failed in this regard. Therefore, to strengthen a data breach claim, you could gather the following evidence:
- Proof of the failings on the part of the data controller or processor – this could include correspondence with the organisation and the ICO’s findings.
- Medical evidence – showing any psychological injuries you have suffered as a result of the breach. You could provide reports from a medical professional, such as a psychologist.
- Evidence of financial losses – this could include bank records, payslips and your credit history.
We also recommend seeking legal advice when pursuing a data breach claim. Speak to our advisors today for more information on the evidence you could collect should a government data breach occur.
You may wonder, ‘how much compensation could a data breach claim be worth?’ There are two potential heads of a successful personal data breach claim:
- Non-material damage compensation – the psychological injuries sustained due to the personal data breach. This could include stress, anxiety, depression, and in extreme cases, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Material damage compensation – the financial losses resulting from the personal data breach.
When valuing non-material damage settlements, legal professionals can use the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG), updated in April 2022, as a reference. This offers guideline settlement amounts for various injuries and illnesses. You can find some examples of these amounts in the table below.
|Severe Psychological Injury (a)||The person will have marked problems in multiple areas, such as their relationships and ability to cope with daily life. The prognosis will be very poor.||£54,830 - £115,730|
|Moderately Severe Psychological Injury (b)||The person will have significant problems in multiple areas, such as their relationships and ability to cope with daily life. However, the prognosis will be much more optimistic than the bracket above.||£19,070 - £54,830|
|Moderate Psychological Injury (c)||Although within this bracket, the person will have struggled with the same sort of problems as above, they will have made a marked improvement by trial and their prognosis will be good.||£5,860 - £19,070|
|Less Severe Psychological Injury (d)||The award within this bracket will be determined by the extent to which the person's life was affected by the injury and the length of the period of disability.||£1,540 - £5,860|
|Severe PTSD (a)||The effects of this injury will be permanent and may prevent the person from working or functioning as they did pre-trauma. All aspects of their life will be badly impacted.||£59,860 - £100,670|
|Moderately Severe PTSD (b)||This category differs from the bracket above as the person will have a better prognosis for some recovery with the help of a professional.||£23,150 - £59,860|
|Moderate PTSD (c)||The person will have largely recovered but may have continuing effects. However, these will not be grossly disabling.||£8,180 - £23,150|
|Less Severe PTSD (d)||The person will have made a virtually full recovery in 1 - 2 years. Only minor symptoms will continue for a longer period.||£3,950 - £8,180|
Please remember that these figures should be considered as a guide, and not a representation of what you will receive.
Material Damage In Data Breach Claims
You could suffer monetary losses should a government data breach occur and involve your personal data. This is referred to as material damage. Compensation for material damage can cover:
- Damage to your credit score – which could impact your future finances.
- Money taken from your bank accounts – due to criminal activity, such as identity theft.
- Loss of earnings – if you had to take time off work due to the psychological injuries resulting from the breach.
To learn more about the potential compensation for a data breach claim, please speak to one of our advisors. You could also use a data breach compensation calculator for a figure more tailored to your claim.
If you allow one of our advisors to assess your data breach claim and they find that your case could be valid, they may place you in contact with one of the solicitors from our panel. They could offer to handle your claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This type of No Win No Fee agreement means that you could benefit from working with a solicitor whilst generally not making any upfront or ongoing payments for their services. Nor will you generally be expected to pay for these services should your claim be unsuccessful.
On the other hand, if your claim is successful, a No Win No Fee solicitor will commonly take a small percentage of the compensation. This is often referred to as a success fee, and the law caps the amount.
See If You Can Make A Claim By Contacting Us For Free
Please get in touch with our team of advisors for free and confidential advice regarding data breach claims. They are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Therefore, you can contact us at any time that suits you.
To learn more:
Please explore more of the data breach guides on our website:
- Compensation For A County Council Data Breach Explained
- A Guide To Claiming Compensation After A Police Data Breach
- How To Make A Claim For A Medical Conditions Data Breach
Also, take a look at the links below to learn more:
- NHS – Stress
- GOV.UK – Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- National Cyber Security Centre – Data breaches: guidance for individuals and families
Thank you for reading this guide on the steps you could take should a government data breach occur.
Writer Jess Ochre
Editor Cat Hunt