Could I Claim Compensation After A City Council Data Breach?

By Lewis Prince. Last Updated 26th October 2022. A city council data breach could leave you out of pocket or facing psychological problems. If this sounds like you, you might have grounds for a valid claim. In this guide, you’ll learn how to report a city council data breach and how you could get the data breach compensation you might be owed.

city council data breach

A guide on claiming for a city council data breach

City councils hold large amounts of personal data on their staff and residents, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for a data breach to happen. We’ll discuss example scenarios of city councils committing data breaches to give you an idea of what you claim for.

Ahead of starting this guide, you may already be raring to speak to our team and take the next step in making a valid claim. Use the live chat feature to connect with an advisor, or:

Choose A Section

  1. Can I Claim Compensation For A City Council Data Breach?
  2. How Much Could I Get For A Data Breach By A City Council?
  3. What Is A City Council Data Breach?
  4. How Long Do I Have To Claim Data Breach Compensation?
  5. Could I Have A No Win No Fee Lawyer?
  6. Further Guidance On City Council Data Breach Claims

Can I Claim Compensation For A City Council Data Breach?

The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) sets out several principles that organisations and individuals should be aware of when processing or storing personal data. UK GDPR sits alongside the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).

Data controllers are organisations that decide how and why personal data is stored, and they also process personal data. However, sometimes, in their stead, organisations known as data processors process personal data. The city council acts as a data controller and may use third parties to process data. 

If data controllers or data processors are found to have neglected the UK GDPR or the DPA, a data breach may occur. However, it is important that you can prove that the data controller or data processor has committed positive wrongful conduct and you suffered financial harm or psychological harm as a result. 

The principles set out in the UK GDPR include:

  • Lawfulness, fairness and transparency: Organisations should be clear on why they are collecting personal data.
  • Purpose limitation: They should only collect data for a specified purpose.
  • Data minimisation: It is important for organisations to keep the personal data they collect to a minimum.
  • Accuracy: Keep personal data updated and relevant.
  • Storage limitation: Organisations have a duty to safely and securely get rid of personal data that they no longer need.
  • Integrity and confidentiality: Security measures must be in place to keep personal data secure.
  • Accountability: It is necessary that organisations show their compliance with the UK GDPR. 

Our advisors can speak to you about your case with no obligation to use our services afterwards. Furthermore, they may put you in touch with a solicitor from our panel, who could then use their expertise to increase your chances of making a successful claim.

Can I Claim Compensation From The Council For Stress After A GDPR Breach?

If you have sufficient evidence, you may be able to claim compensation from the council for stress or other psychological issues. This would be under non-material damage.

Any medical evidence, such as discharge letters or hospital records, may be used to support data breach claims for stress. A data breach solicitor from our panel could also arrange a private medical assessment in order for you to obtain medical evidence. They could ensure the assessment is local to avoid you having to travel far.

As well as being asked to prove any psychological harm, you’ll be required to prove any related material damage too. For example, you may need time off work to recover and suffer a loss of earnings. Retain payslips to prove this loss.

If you believe you are eligible to claim data breach compensation from the council for stress, get in touch with our advisors for a free eligibility check.

How Much Could I Get For A Data Breach By A City Council?

The Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) is a document used by solicitors to value injuries based on compensation awarded in previous court settlements. We have taken compensation ranges from the 16th edition of the JCG, released in April 2022, to give you an estimate of what you could be owed.

InjuryCompensation RangeNotes
Severe Psychiatric Damage£54,830 to £115,730Qualities of your life will be detrimentally affected, including maintaining relationships in your personal life.
Moderately Severe Psychiatric Damage£19,070 to £54,830You are unable to cope with life and your ability to work is negatively affected.
Moderate Psychiatric Damage£5,860 to £19,070The prognosis is a lot more optimistic compared to more severe psychiatric damage injuries.
Less Severe Psychiatric Damage £1,540 to £5,860You might be unable to sleep but the prognosis will be good.
Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder£59,860 to £100,670The severity of your PTSD makes it a struggle for you to work and will affect all aspects of your life.
Moderately Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder£23,150 to £59,860Going forward, significant disability will continue to affect your quality of life.
Moderate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder£8,180 to £23,150A recovery is expected and symptoms that persist do not have too much of an impact on you.
Less Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder£3,950 to £8,180Ongoing symptoms would only be minor and a full recovery is expected by two years at most.

What Makes Up Data Breach Compensation?

The data breach compensation you might receive for psychological harm is referred to as non-material damage.

However, it may also be possible for you to claim for financial losses too. We refer to this head of claim as material damage. For example, the stress of a city council data breach may leave you unable to work and cause a loss of earnings. You must prove material damage, so in this case you could use a wage slip as evidence of your loss of earnings.

For more examples of material damage you could claim for, speak to an advisor today.

What Is A City Council Data Breach?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) enforces data protection legislation. The ICO notes that a data breach occurs when a security incident results in personal data being accessed, lost, disclosed, destroyed or altered unlawfully or accidentally.

An incident may happen due to cybercrime or human error, for example, and can lead to a personal data breach.

Data breaches may happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • A failure to use BCC in emails: If city council staff fail to use the BCC field in emails, other recipients can see all the email addresses the email has been sent to. 
  • Data posted to the wrong person: A principle of the UK GDPR is to make sure personal data is updated and relevant. Therefore, council staff have a duty to update the personal information they hold on residents, such as where they live. If a resident moves house and informs the council, but staff do not update the address, confidential information could be sent to the new homeowner instead. 
  • Incorrect disposal of paperwork or hardware: Council staff have a duty to properly and safely dispose of items containing personal data. Otherwise, your data could fall into the wrong hands. 

What Are The ICO’s Data Breach Statistics?

Local government was the fourth sector most affected by data breaches in Q3 2021/22, according to data security incident trends recorded by the ICO. There were 217 incidents reported, 208 of which were non-cyber while just 9 were cyber. 

Our advisors can offer free legal advice and you won’t be obligated to use our services afterwards. They may also connect you to a solicitor from our panel, but only if you have a legitimate claim. Get in touch for more information.

How Long Do I Have To Claim Data Breach Compensation?

The Limitation Act 1980 sets out the time limits for making a city council data breach claim. Typically, you have up to 6 years to begin a claim. 

Time limits may vary depending on the circumstances of your case. As a result, you may be left unsure whether you are within your rights to claim. We can help you determine the time limit of your case, completely free of charge. 

Could I Have A No Win No Fee Lawyer?

A No Win No Fee arrangement is a way of funding legal representation without the risk of an upfront solicitor’s fee. Through this arrangement, you’ll agree on the costs with your lawyer before legal proceedings begin. Therefore, you’ll know what to expect to pay if the claim is settled. Furthermore, you won’t pay the solicitor’s fee at all if your claim is unsuccessful. 

Get Advice On How To Claim Compensation For A City Council Data Breach

Our panel of solicitors may offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis, but only if you have a valid city council data breach claim. Our advisors can offer a free consultation to clarify if your claim is legit and how much your claim could be worth. You can scroll to the top of this page and fill out a form to request a callback. Otherwise, you can:

Further Guidance On City Council Data Breach Claims

We are now coming to the end of this guide on city council data breach claims. Here are some additional resources for you to use.

Make a complaint – Complain to the ICO if you have been a victim of a data breach.

Feelings, symptoms and behaviours – NHS guidance on feelings and symptoms that affect your mental health.

How to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – Check your eligibility for SSP with help from the government. 

That concludes our guide on making a city council data breach claim. We hope you have found this article useful and feel confident to take legal action.

 Writer Lewis Julius

Publisher Ruth Vernon