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Data Breach Compensation – Make A UK GDPR Data Breach Claim

By Danielle Jordan. Last Updated 29th February 2024. If your personal or sensitive information has been exposed or accessed without your consent, you could be entitled to claim data breach compensation.

Below, you can find lots of useful information on making a data breach claim. Specifically, you can find details on:

  • The role of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
  • The roles of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 in data protection law.
  • What organisations could be subject to a data breach claim
  • How much compensation you could get after a data breach
  • And how you can make a No Win No Fee claim with our expert solicitors.

We’ll also answer questions like:

  • How long does a data breach claim take?
  • And how much is a data breach claim worth?

We’ll answer many more questions about data protection claims below. You can jump to the section that interests you most by clicking below.

Additionally, you can contact our team of advisors if you have any questions about claiming data breach compensation. You can connect with them via the following contact details:

a black and white figuring spray painting 'data breach' onto a wall

Select A Section

    1. When Could I Claim Data Breach Compensation?
    2. What Is A Data Breach Compensation Claim?
    3. Data Protection Breach Examples
    4. Does The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Pay Data Breach Compensation?
    5. Evidence To Support A Data Breach Claim
    6. How Much Compensation Could I Receive For A Personal Data Breach Claim?
    7. Start Your No Win No Fee Data Breach Compensation Claim Today

To see the key points from our guide, why not watch our video below:

When Could I Claim Data Breach Compensation?

If your personal data was breached, you may wonder if you are entitled to compensation. The personal data of all UK residents is protected by the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). Personal data is any information that could be used to identify you.

Data controllers, who decide how and why to use your personal data, and data processors, who process the data on behalf of the controller, are both expected to comply with these legislations. If they fail to do so, this is known as wrongful conduct.

Wrongful conduct can lead to a personal data breach. This is any security incident that affects the security, integrity, or availability of your personal data. However, you cannot claim for every data breach.

In order to claim compensation for a data breach, you have to be able to prove that:

  • A data breach occurred as a result of wrongful conduct
  • Your personal data was affected by a data breach
  • You suffered mental or financial harm as a result

We look at a few data breach compensation examples further in this article, or you can speak with an advisor to discuss your eligibility to claim. 

What Is A Data Breach Compensation Claim?

A data breach is the unlawful disclosure or accessing of personal data without your consent. This personal data may have been misused, disclosed, destroyed or lost. It may have occurred as a result of human error.

A data breach could cause all types of damage and harm. If, for example, your GP sends a letter containing sensitive information to your neighbour’s address and they happen to read the content of that letter, it may provoke significant stress and anxiety.

There may also be financial harm inflicted too. If your bank details have been accessed in a cyberattack, for example, you may be subject to identity theft.

A good example of this can be seen in the British Library data breach where hackers obtained personnel data and offered it for sale online.

If you’ve been the victim of a breach of privacy, you’re entitled to make a claim under data protection law.

Is an email address personal data?

When making a data breach claim, it’s important to be aware of what can be categorised as personal data. People often wonder whether an email address is personal data.

An email address can be counted as personal data. If a third-party accessed your email address, you could be sent spam emails without your consent or be involved in a phishing scam.

If your name also features in your email address, then its unlawful distribution could mean that unauthorised third parties could discover your identity.

For example, your email may be, “Johnsmith@email.com.” Therefore, it would be easy to work out your name from your email address.

A data breach compensation calculator can take into account the level of psychological harm that a breach such as this may result in.

For more information, including how much your claim could be worth, reach out to our advisors today. You can also head here to learn more about whether or not sharing an email address amounts to a data breach.

Data Protection Breach Examples

You could make a claim if your personal data was compromised in a data breach due to an organisation breaking the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the UK General Data Protection Regulation’s (UK GDPR) rules. You will also need to prove that the personal data breach caused you to suffer mental harm or financial loss.

There are various ways an organisation’s failures could result in data protection breaches. Some examples include:

  • Human error, such as the receptionist at your GP surgery verbally sharing your medical records with an unauthorised person without a lawful basis.
  • Your employer doesn’t update your workplace’s cyber security, which leads to a cyber-attack. The hacker then leaked your phone numbers (home and mobile), resulting in you receiving unwanted calls and messages.
  • Your solicitor fails to lock away or secure a paper file containing your personal information. This could result in your personal data being lost or stolen.
  • In terms of real-life examples, a significant breach occurred in March 2023 when Capita, which administers the pension funds for dozens of organisations, suffered a cyber attack, including some of the biggest funds in the country. For more advice on the Capita data breach and compensation claims, head here. Another recent example came from the Southern Water also suffered a data breach in similar circumstances.

It is important to note that not all data breaches can lead to a claim. If you did not suffer any harm due to the data breach, or if the organisation took all the necessary steps and measurements to protect your personal data, but it was still compromised, you might not be able to claim.

Contact our advisors today to receive free legal advice regarding your specific claim. They could also help you answer any question you may have about starting a claim for a personal data breach.

 A man looking at a digital display that states 'data breach'

Does The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Pay Data Breach Compensation?

The ICO is an independent organisation that is charged with enforcing compliance with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. They’re also charged with enforcing compliance with other laws, such as the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), as well as other legislation.

The ICO does not pay data breach compensation. 

If you believe that you’ve fallen victim to a data breach, the ICO recommends contacting the organisation directly to complain.

If nothing comes of that complaint then you can take the matter up with the ICO, ideally no later than 3 months since you last heard from the organisation.

As we’ve seen above, the ICO can issue hefty fines, like the £20m they gave to British Airways. But above all, the ICO seeks to enforce compliance with the laws.

They provide recommendations and guidance on how organisations can fix problems with data protection.

Evidence To Support A Data Breach Claim

If you are eligible to make a claim for data breach compensation, collecting sufficient evidence could help support your case.

Some examples of evidence that could help support your personal data breach claim include:

  • Confirmation that your personal data was breached. For example, the organisation responsible may have sent you an email or letter stating that your personal information was involved in a data breach.
  • Any correspondence with the organisation responsible regarding the breach.
  • If you reported the breach to the ICO and they decided to investigate, their findings could be used as evidence in your claim.
  • Proof that you suffered psychological harm due to the breach. For example, this could be a copy of your medical records stating that you were diagnosed with anxiety after the breach occurred.
  • Proof that you suffered financial losses due to the breach. A copy of your bank statements could be used as evidence for this.

Contact our advisors today to discuss your potential claim. If they believe you may have a strong case, they could connect you with one of our solicitors, who could help you with gathering evidence.

How Much Compensation Could I Receive For A Personal Data Breach Claim?

If your personal data breach compensation claim succeeds, you could be awarded compensation for your non-material damage and your material damage.

Non-material damage refers to the harm done to your mental health. For example, following a personal data breach, you may experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other kinds of mental distress.

When solicitors value this head of data breach compensation, they may refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This document lists psychological injuries alongside guideline settlement amounts, some examples of which you can find below.

These figures have been taken from the most recent edition of the JCG, published in April 2022. Please note that these are not guaranteed amounts and that the top figure has not been taken from the JCG.

Edit
Injury Type Severity Notes Amount
Severe Psychological Harm With Financial Losses Severe Compensation for severe psychological harm and any associated financial losses. Up to £200,000+
General Psychiatric Damage Severe Prognosis will be poor and the person will have an inability to cope with life as well as experiencing future vulnerability. £54,830 to £115,730
General Psychiatric Damage Moderately Severe Serious problems will persist. However, prognosis will be a lot more optimistic. £19,070 to £54,830
General Psychiatric Damage Moderate Prognosis will be good with noted improvements made. £5,860 to £19,070
General Psychiatric Damage Less Severe How long the disability affected the person and the extent to which aspects like sleep were affected will be taken into consideration. £1,540 to £5,860
Reactive Psychiatric Disorder Severe Permanent symptoms that completely stop the person from functioning anywhere near the pre-trauma level. £59,860 to £100,670
Reactive Psychiatric Disorder Moderately Severe Better prognosis with room for recovery with some professional help. £23,150 to £59,860
Reactive Psychiatric Disorder Moderate The person will have mostly recovered. Any symptoms that continue will not be particularly disabling. £8,180 to £23,150
Reactive Psychiatric Disorder Less Severe Virtual full recovery will be made within a year or two. Symptoms of a minor nature may still persist for longer. £3,950 to £8,180

Material damage refers to the financial harm you suffered due to the personal data breach. For example, if your credit card details were leaked, and this resulted in identity theft and fraudulent purchases made in your name, you could claim these losses back under material damage compensation.

Get in touch with our team today to learn more about claiming compensation for a data breach in the UK if you have suffered financial harm or a psychological injury.

Start Your No Win No Fee Data Breach Compensation Claim Today

If you have valid grounds to make a personal data breach compensation claim, you may want to consider obtaining legal representation.

One of our expert data breach solicitors may be able to help you with your case. Additionally, they may offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis under a Conditional Fee Agreement.

With this particular arrangement in place, you will not have to pay anything upfront to your solicitor for them to begin working on your case. Furthermore, there will be no ongoing fees to pay for their services or if the claim ends unsuccessfully.

However, if you are successfully awarded data protection breach compensation, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from this. There is a legal cap in place for the percentage that this success fee can be.

To see if one of our No Win No Fee solicitors could assist you with your personal data protection compensation claim, you can contact our advisors.

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    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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