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Buckinghamshire Council Data Breach Compensation Claims Guide – How Much Compensation Can I Claim?

Welcome to our guide on what you could do following a potential Buckinghamshire Council data breach. It is normal for councils to collect personal data from employees and residents. The council that stores your data has to abide by strict regulations which dictate how your data can be used and processed. But what happens if a Buckinghamshire Council data breach was to occur because of failings on the part of the local authority? This is what our guide will cover.

Do You Get Compensation For A Data Breach By A Council?

Buckinghamshire Council data breach claims guide

Buckinghamshire Council data breach claims guide.

If your data is exposed, this can cause you harm. This harm can be financial in the form of money being stolen following a credit card breach. Or a data breach may harm you psychologically; for instance, you might suffer from stress, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of your data being exposed.

If you can provide evidence that you have experienced harm as the result of a data breach, and you can prove that the breach came about because of failings to keep your data safe, Legal Expert may be able to help. Firstly, we can offer you a free consultation to advise you about claiming data breach compensation.

Secondly, we could provide you with a specialist solicitor to handle your compensation claim, if it is proven valid. Your solicitor will assess your claim based on the impact that it has had on you. In addition, they can handle your claim on a No Win No Fee basis, which we will discuss more later on in this guide.

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A Guide To Claims Should A Buckinghamshire Council Data Breach Occur

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a piece of EU legislation. The purpose of the legislation is to protect the data privacy and security of individuals. The Data Protection Act 2018 enacts the GDPR into UK law, and since leaving the EU, we refer to the UK GDPR to instruct us on how data should be handled and processed.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is a non-departmental authority that was set up to uphold rights for how our personal information is used. It regulates how organisations use and process personal information relating to data subjects (these are individuals to whom data relates).

Personal data is classed as any information which someone could use to identify the data subject. This is either on its own or when combined with other information. A data breach can occur even when an organisation has done all it can to protect the data. In these instances a claim is unlikely. But if an organisation is found to be lacking in data security it could be liable for a data breach.

Is There A Time Limit For Making A Data Breach Claim?

There is a six-year time limit for starting a data breach claim against a private company. However, if the data breach concerns a public body like a city council, the time limit is just one year. You should find out beforehand what your time limit is, as other factors can impact the limitation period. And so you don’t want to miss out by unexpectedly missing out, so we suggest that you contact us ASAP.

Cyber Security Statistics

The Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 explains the following:

  • 26% of charities and 39% of businesses in the UK have experienced a breach or attack over the previous year.
  • 18% of charities that have experienced a breach said they lost money, data or other assets as a result.
  • Similarly, 21% of businesses that experienced a breach said they have subsequently lost money, data or other assets.

As the graph below shows, the most common kind of attack identified by businesses in the last 12 months were phishing attacks. In these kinds of attacks, cybercriminals will send emails or other communications purporting to be from a reputable organisation. They will then use these to collect information like passwords.

Data breach statistics graph

Data breach statistics graph

What Might A Buckinghamshire Council Data Breach Be?

A data breach is when personal data held by a data controller is comprised. A local council data breach could potentially happen because of an unintentional error, such as a staff member making a mistake or not having been trained properly on data protection. Alternatively, data breaches can take place because of cyberattacks.

A data breach is a security issue that leads to loss, alteration, destruction or unauthorised access to or disclosure of personal data. This data can be stored digitally or physically; for instance, information stored in a filing cabinet would be subject to UK GDPR in the same way as information stored on a computer.

Local councils need to collect a range of information from people who make use of their services. For instance, those under the care of social services or who live in social housing might have to provide personal data to the council.

Furthermore, the council will also hold information on people who work for them. This may include names, addresses and bank details in order for employees to be paid. If Buckinghamshire Council is your employer, they have a responsibility to keep your data secure.

For free legal advice and no-obligation consultation with a member of our team, call us today.

Does The GDPR Cover County Councils?

The UK GDPR applies to all organisations that handle data relating to UK citizens. This means that all local authorities and councils are required to abide by these regulations when handling and processing data.

The UK GDPR is based on seven key principles that all organisations, including councils, must adhere to. These are:

  • Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
  • Purpose limitation, meaning that data should only be collected for a specific legitimate purpose. It should not then be further processed in a way that’s incompatible with the original purpose.
  • Data minimisation. This means that the data collected should only be information that is necessary for the purpose it is being collected or processed for.
  • Accuracy. This means that the information should be accurate and up-to-date. Inaccurate records should be erased or updated without delay.
  • Storage limitation, meaning that data should only be held for as long as is necessary for the purpose for which it was processed.
  • Integrity and confidentiality. This means that appropriate security should be ensured to protect the data from being lost, destroyed, damaged or accessed without authorisation.
  • Accountability. The data controller should be responsible for adhering to all of these principles and should be able to demonstrate their compliance.

In addition to these principles, the data processor must have a lawful basis for processing your data. It’s the responsibility of a council to show which lawful basis applies to the processing of the data.

Data Breaches Which Could Affect County Councils

Data breaches can happen for a variety of different reasons. Below, we have included examples of how local authority data breaches might happen:

  • Device loss can lead to a data breach. For instance, a work laptop that is not password protected could be lost. Subsequently, unauthorised parties can access files containing personal data.
  • A council email data breach can happen if an employee attached personal information to a mass email by accident.
  • An ex-employee still had access to files after no longer working at the council. This means that they could have unauthorised access to personal data.
  • The council sends information about a child’s adoption to the wrong recipient, which can put the child in danger.
  • Social services share personal information with an unauthorised third party.
  • Information on community safety includes a case study. However, the document does not use anonymisation to protect the privacy of the person involved.
  • Data protection systems could be inadequate. Consequently, a cyber attack could happen. This means that criminals could use malicious software (malware) to access the council’s database.

If a Buckinghamshire Council data breach occurred, would you know what steps you would need to take following the incident? Call Legal Expert for your free consultation.

Tenancy Record And Rent Statement Data Breaches

Councils often rent out social housing to tenants. Social housing tenants are sometimes vulnerable people, such as the elderly.

If a local authority data breach did occur then social housing tenants may find the following data information is exposed:

  • Names and contact details of public housing tenants
  • Address
  • Scans of tenancy audit documents
  • Tenancy documents
  • Passport data
  • Information about the tenant’s personal characteristics. For example, their sex, religion and date of birth.

It is important to note that just because personal information is exposed, this does not mean that you would automatically be entitled to claim. To be entitled to compensation, you must be able to show how the data controller could have avoided the data breach. For help on this call our advisors at Legal Expert 7 days a week 24 hours a day.

Should I Complain To The Information Commissioner First?

As we’ve already mentioned, the ICO functions to protect the information rights of the public. The ICO can enforce the UK GDPR. This means that they can investigate councils that are responsible for data breaches.

What’s more, the Information Commissioner’s Office can issue council data breach fines. However, they cannot award you compensation; in order for you to receive a settlement for the harm caused to you, you would need to make a data breach claim.

You can make a data breach compensation claim without having first contacted the ICO. However, an ICO investigation may give you a better insight into how the breach occurred.

If the ICO holds the data controller responsible for the breach, their findings could be used to support your claim. However, their decision is not final, and the court could come to a different conclusion than the ICO.

Before you proceed to make a data breach claim you may want to;

  • First, contact Buckinghamshire Council to raise your concerns if you suspect a data breach. The council may be able to resolve the matter internally. Or they may have contacted you about the breach in which case you may want answers to some questions you have.
  • Contact the ICO within three months of your last meaningful contact with Buckinghamshire Council if they have not provided you with the information you need.

How Do You Sue A County Council For A Breach Of Data Privacy?

If you have decided that you want to make a data breach claim you may question whether you should hire a solicitor to support your case. A data breach solicitor would be able to offer many benefits to a case such as this as they will have spent many years in training on how to correctly file a claim.

If you call our advisors today they can listen to the merits of your case and provide you with an answer to its validity. Our solicitors can take on any valid case on a No Win No Fee basis.

The benefits of trusting Legal Expert to handle your claim include the following:

  • Our lawyers have years of experience handling claims.
  • We will assess your case in-depth to ensure the right amount of compensation is pursued on your behalf.
  • Your claim will be handled on a No Win No Fee basis.

What Damages Could You Receive?

If your claim for Buckinghamshire Council data breach compensation is successful, you can receive two heads of claim. These are as follows:

  • Material damages, which reimburse you for any financial losses you have experienced due to the data breach.
  • Non-material damages, which compensate you for any emotional harm you have suffered because of the data breach.

Sadly, victims of a data breach sometimes develop psychological injuries in response to the trauma they have experienced. These injuries can include depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Non-material damages can include compensation for psychological injuries.

In the case of Vidal-Hall v Google [2015], the Court of Appeal ruled that victims of data breaches can claim non-material damages even if they don’t claim any material damages. Before this, you would have to have suffered financial loss in order to be compensated for any emotional harm you were caused.

How To Calculate A Settlement For A Buckinghamshire Council Data Breach

The table below illustrates figures taken from a publication used by lawyers to value injuries in personal injury cases. Please be aware that these are guideline compensation brackets and not guaranteed amounts.

Classification Of Injury About The Harm Suffered Damages
PTSD – Severe The claimant will have sustained an injury which prevents they from being able to work or which prevents them working at the same level as they did before the trauma. £56,180 – £94,470
PTSD – Moderately Severe Distinct from those in the category above, claimants with this degree of injury could experience a better degree of recovery with professional help. They are still likely to experience disabilities for the foreseeable future. £21,730 – £56,180
PTSD – Moderate The claimant should have largely made a recovery. £7,680 – £21,730
Psychiatric – Severe The injured party will have problems with continuing in education, work, relationships and their social life. Their overall prognosis will be quite poor. £51,460 – £108,620
Psychiatric – Moderately Severe The person could have problems with the factors highlighted above. They should have a more optimistic prognosis than people in the category above. Whilst claims could fall at the top of bottom of the bracket, most cases are towards the middle. £17,900 – £51,460
Psychiatric – Moderate There could still be problems with relationships, friendships, work or education, but the prognosis is better and there will have been a good degree of improvement by the time a claim gets to trial (if it does). This could include work-related stress. £5,500 – £17,900
Psychiatric – Less Severe Payouts will account for how long and how serious any disabilities were and the extent to which these impacted on daily activity as well as what the impact on sleep was. Up to £5,500

The compensation payout amounts that we have listed are based on guidelines provided by the Judicial College. The table includes estimates for non-material damages compensation payouts. However, it does not include any material damages you may be granted.

No Win No Fee Claims For A Buckinghamshire Council Data Breach

A No Win No Fee agreement is sometimes referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement. It’s a contract between you and your solicitor that sets out the conditions they need to meet before you pay them.

A No Win No Fee agreement means:

  • You won’t be charged an hourly or upfront solicitors fee.
  • If your claim is unsuccessful, there will be nothing to pay your solicitor at all.
  • And if you win your data breach claim, a success fee will be deducted at a capped rate. Therefore you will keep the majority of your compensation payout.

If you would like to know more about the benefits that a No Win No Fee agreement can offer, get in touch with Legal Expert today.

How To Find A Data Breach Lawyer

You no longer need to worry about finding a solicitor in your local area. Solicitors can now represent clients no matter where either-or is based. They can communicate with you online or over the phone through the entire process. However, if you want to meet your solicitor that could also be arranged too.

To find out how Legal Expert can help, contact us today.

  • Call our claims helpline on 0800 073 8804
  • Ask us a question directly using our Live Support widget to the bottom right of this screen
  • Fill out our online form 

Related Guides

If you have found our guide on what you could do following a potential Buckinghamshire Council data breach helpful, these online guides may also be helpful to you.

NHS Data Breach Compensation Claims Guide

University Of West London Data Breach Claims Guide

Further Answers To Data Breach FAQs

A government guide to protecting yourself from fraud, tricks or scams

Report internet scams and phishing

The rights of individuals under the GDPR

Other Useful Compensation Guides

FAQs About Data Breach Claims

Now, let’s answer some questions you may have about making a data breach claim.

How do I make a subject access request?

You have the right to access personal data that an organisation has collected on you. This process is known as a subject access request (SAR). You can make a subject access request verbally, in writing or via social media.

Who could a local authority share data with?

A local authority can share your information where there is a lawful basis for doing so. This may be if they have your consent, if sharing the information is in the public interest or if they must process your data to fulfil a contract they have with you.

I have contacted the ICO. Can I still make a claim?

Yes, you can still claim compensation if you have reported a data breach to the ICO. An ICO complaint is completely separate from the awarding of compensation. You can also claim if you have not raised your concerns with the ICO.

How do I know if my data privacy has been breached?

You may receive a data breach notification by email or post.

Thank you for reading our guide on what you could do following a potential Buckinghamshire Council data breach

Guide by Chelache

Edited by Stocks

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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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