By Marlon Marquardt. Last Updated 3rd February 2023. This guide aims to show when data breach claims against a solicitor may be justified. Laws relating to personal data have been strengthened over recent years.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a piece of EU legislation relating to data protection that was ratified into UK law with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). Since the UK has left the EU, the UK GDPR sits alongside an updated version of the DPA. This is the regime that outlines how organisations process your personal data in the UK.
Solicitors are subject to the UK GDPR in the same way that all other organisations are. They must try to protect any personal data they hold in accordance with the law.
If your personal data is not protected, and a breach occurs that causes you harm, you may be eligible to claim damages. As we continue, we’ll show you some examples of how a data protection solicitor could help you to do so.
We can help with various types of data breach claims. These include claims following an NHS data breach, police force data breaches and HMRC data breaches. We can consider your case during a no-obligation initial consultation.
Where it looks like you could claim data breach compensation, we could connect you with a solicitor on our panel. They could represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. We will look at this in greater detail further on in this guide.
Are you ready to start a claim today? If so, why not get in touch by calling 0800 408 7825 today? Alternatively, please carry on reading to read more about your options.
Select A Section
- An Essential Guide TO Data Breach Claims Against Solicitors
- What Are Data Breach Claims Against A Solicitor?
- How Solicitors And The Legal Sector Could Breach Peoples Data Privacy
- What Damages May Be Paid Out For Data Breaches?
- Data Breach Claims Calculator
- Data Breach Solicitors – Working On A No Win No Fee Basis
- Discuss Data Breach Claims Against A Solicitor With Our Team
- Support And References
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent authority for data protection matters. They help organisations to get things right but also have the power to penalise them if laws are broken.
However, if you suffer as the result of a personal data breach, the ICO cannot award you compensation. Therefore, we’ve written this guide on making data breach claims against a solicitor.
You may be able to make a claim if your solicitor has failed to protect your personal data from being exposed, leading to financial or psychological suffering. We’ll explain more about this later on. We’ll also look at how much compensation could be paid for your suffering too.
Later on, we’ll provide some information on how solicitors could breach data protection laws. All organisations must adhere to the seven key principles of the ICO. Furthermore, they cannot process your data without a lawful basis for doing so.
If you’re unsure if you have a valid claim whilst reading, please get in touch to discuss your options.
What Is The Most Common Type Of Data Breach?
Any security incident that affects the rights and freedoms of data subjects must now be reported to the ICO. That means that we have access to information on how often security incidents occur. The graph below shows the types of data security incidents reported by the legal sector in the second quarter of 2021/22.
The data is based on incidents that were reported to the ICO for that period. As you can see, the most commonly reported incident was where data was emailed to the wrong recipient.
Before looking at when data breach claims against a solicitor are possible, let’s review what personal data breaches are. According to the ICO, they are security problems that cause personal data to be destroyed, changed, lost, or disclosed to or accessed by someone without authorisation.
A breach of personal data can happen as the result of a malicious attack where someone attempts to steal data for their own benefit. However, data breaches can also happen accidentally as the result of human error.
The term personal data relates to information that may lead to your identification. This could include your name, contact details or bank details. The data doesn’t need to be enough to identify you on it’s own; data that can identify you when combined with other information is also classed as personal data.
Data breach claims against a solicitor may be possible if it can be shown that their failings allowed the breach to occur. Where a solicitor acted appropriately, a claim would not be possible.
Also, you’ll need evidence that the incident caused mental harm or financial loss. If a breach occurred that didn’t cause you harm, you would not be able to claim.
Here are some examples of how data breaches could occur in the legal sector:
- Your case files containing personal data could be forwarded to the wrong postal address.
- Your solicitor may share your personal data with an unauthorised party.
- A device could be lost or stolen and it contains your personal data.
- Case files containing personal data are not securely destroyed when finished with. This could result in this data being accessed by an unauthorised person.
- A solicitor’s computer system is hacked and personal data is accessed because of a lack of proper security measures.
- An unauthorised party reads your personal data because a computer screen is visible from the solicitor’s reception area.
As you can see, data breaches can happen because of human error and also criminal activity. If you’d like advice on when data breach claims against a solicitor can be made, why not call our team today for free legal advice?
When claiming compensation for a data protection breach, it’s possible to receive:
- Material damages. This part of your claim covers the financial impact that the incident has had on you. For example, you may have lost money if your card details were exposed in a credit card breach.
- Non-material damages. This part of your compensation covers you for the emotional harm that you’ve experienced. For instance, you might feel stressed or depressed after a data breach. In severe cases, you might experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There are time limits that apply to data breach claims. It’s important that you begin your claim within this time limit; if you don’t, you might not be able to claim.
When you’re claiming against a public body, you have one year to claim. Claims against other organisations are subject to a six-year time limit. This is the time limit that will generally apply to data breach claims against a solicitor.
Please get in touch to check if you’ve still got time to take action. If you do, and your claim is valid, you could be connected with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel to represent you.
We’re now going to look at potential compensation amounts for data breach claims against a solicitor. Before that, it’s important to review an important court case.
During the hearing of Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc , the court stated that compensation may be paid for psychological injuries resulting from data breaches. That is the case whether money was lost because of the breach or not.
This was a change from past rulings where claims were only possible to claim for non-material damages if monetary losses had also occurred.
How The Judicial College Guidelines Help Estimate Compensation Payouts
In another hearing, Gulati & Others v MGN Limited , it was decided that any compensation for mental suffering should be calculated in the same way as personal injury compensation payouts. Guidelines from the Judicial College are used to help value these claims. Because of this, the compensation list below uses figures from this publication.
|Type of Injury||Severity Bracket||Settlement Range||Additional Information|
|Psychiatric Damage (Mental Harm)||(a) Severe||£54,830 to £115,730||Very poor prognosis. Marked problems with coping with work, life and managing relationships. The claimant will continue to be vulnerable as treatment probably won't help much.|
|(c) Moderate||£5,860 to £19,070||Good prognosis. There will have been significant suffering initially but a lot of improvement will have been observed.|
|(d)Less severe||Up to £5,860||This bracket will look at how long the claimant's sleep and other daily activities were affected.|
|PTSD||(b)Moderately Severe||£23,150 to £59,860||The claimant will suffer significantly with symptoms like sleep disturbance, mood disorders and hyper-arousal initially. However, with the support of a specialist, they should recover somewhat.|
|(c) Moderate||£8,180 to £23,150||In the main, the victim will have only a few symptoms remaining that won't be grossly disabling.|
|(d)Less severe||£3,950 to £8,180||Here, the affected party will have just about fully recovered.|
No Win No Fee solicitors are solicitors who can work with you without, generally:
- Requiring hiring fees for their services
- Charging you any ongoing fees for their work
- Charging you a fee if your claim is unsuccessful
They could offer you these terms under a Conditional Fee Agreement if they agreed that you had a valid claim to compensation for your data breach. Your solicitors may charge a success fee in a successful claim – this is a capped percentage of your compensation.
If you were harmed because of a breach of data protection by a solicitor, then please reach out to one of our advisers to discuss your eligibility to claim and learn more about how our No Win No Fee data breach lawyers could help you.
Thanks for reading our guide on data breach claims against a solicitor. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your options, you can:
- Call 0800 408 7825 to speak with an advisor.
- Ask for advice online using live chat.
- Use our contact page to request a call back.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority – Information from the body that regulates some legal service providers in the UK.
Dealing With Anxiety – Guidance from the NHS about how to deal with the symptoms of anxiety.
Data Minimalisation – Explains how companies must only collect and process relevant data.
Credit Card Data Breach – Information on starting a claim if your data has been exposed by your credit card provider.
Wrong Email Address Compensation – Advice on claiming if information about you was sent to the wrong recipient.
Misdirected Fax Data Breach – Guidance on how a fax sent to the wrong number could result in a personal data breach claim.
If you need any more information about data breach claims against a solicitor, please get in touch.
Guide by EA