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Cheshire West and Chester Council Data Breach Claims

Welcome to our guide looking at how a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach could potentially occur. A data breach can have many consequences for a data subject, those who supply personal data to an organisation, who are known as a data controller. It is fair to say that sometimes a data breach causes no harm but in other cases, it can cause both emotional and financial suffering.

The body in charge of collecting your personal information is known as the data controller. The data controller may then contract a third party to help them process the data. This party is known as the data processor.

The person to who the data relates is the data subject. Personal data is any information that someone can use to identify you, either in isolation or when combined with other information.

Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach claims guide

Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach claims guide

There are pieces of legislation that protect the way your data is stored, processed and used. We will look at these later on in this guide.

But how might a council data breach occur if the local authority failed to do all they could to secure your personal data? And what steps could you take after a breach that has caused you harm? We will examine the answer to these questions and more throughout this guide.

Contact Details

If you wish to get in touch with us for free legal advice, you’re welcome to do so. You can:

  • Call our advisors for free advice and information on 0800 073 8804
  • Chat with us using the pop-up window in the corner
  • Check to see if you have a valid claim using our online form

Select A Section

  1. A Guide On Claiming For A Cheshire West and Chester Council Data Breach
  2. Online Data Breach Statistics
  3. What Is A Cheshire West and Chester Council Data Breach?
  4. Who Does The UK GDPR Apply To?
  5. How Could A Council Breach Your Data Protection Rights?
  6. Breaches In Health, Social Care And Housing Benefit Data Protection
  7. Who Should I Notify Of The Data Breach?
  8. Steps To Claim For Breach Of Data Protection
  9. What Payout Could I Be Awarded In Damages?
  10. How Could You Calculate Compensation For A Cheshire West and Chester Council Data Breach?
  11. Making A No Win No Fee Claim
  12. Why Work With Legal Expert?
  13. Get In Touch With Our Team
  14. Read More
  15. Questions Commonly Asked About Data Protection

A Guide On Claiming For A Cheshire West and Chester Council Data Breach

Your local authority might need to hold a wide range of information on you. For instance, if they are your employer, then they may hold your bank details in order to pay you. If you’re a tenant of council housing or under the care of social services, the council will usually need to hold your data in order to provide you with these services.

In this guide, we will discuss steps to take so you would know how to proceed if a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach occurred. We’ll also discuss what kinds of damages could be included in your claim. This guide will also look at how a No Win No Fee agreement could help you fund legal representation in a claim.

If you have been the victim of a data breach, then there is a time limit that applies to you starting a claim. If you’re claiming against a public body or organisation, such as a council, then you have a year to start your claim. For all other organisations, the time limit is 6 years. This is unless it affects your human rights.

However, you must have evidence to prove that failings on the part of the data controller led to the breach. If the council did all that they could to protect your data, and a breach happened despite this, then you would not be able to claim.

Online Data Breach Statistics

Government statistics regarding data breaches show that 51% of businesses and 38% of charities are acting diligently to avoid cyber attacks by making an effort at least every quarter to update those in charge as to the state of their cybersecurity.

Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach graph

What Is A Cheshire West and Chester Council Data Breach?

Local authorities can hold a wide range of information on data subjects for a number of different reasons. If you use any council services, like social services or council housing, then the council may need to hold your information to provide you with these services. Furthermore, you may have applied for a school or nursery place for your child through the council website. If so, the council could also hold this information.

A data breach is defined as a security incident where personal data is accidentally or unlawfully destroyed, lost, altered or disclosed to or accessed by an unauthorised party. In some cases, data breaches occur as the result of a deliberate, malicious attack by cybercriminals. However, in other instances, it could be the result of insufficient training or human error on the part of a staff member.

What Can Cause A Data Breach

  • Cyber attacks – this is when data is taken unlawfully over the internet, usually by exploiting weaknesses in an organisation’s cybersecurity.
  • Phishing – sometimes, those who wish to access your information will construct a very authentic-looking but fake website, tricking you into entering information such as your bank details.
  • Theft/loss of devices – for example, a work laptop that isn’t password-protected and contains sensitive client information could be left on public transport. If someone found the laptop, they could access that information without authorisation.
  • Human error- An organisation has a responsibility to train all staff members on data protection. If a member of staff failed to dispose of paperwork containing personal data securely, or sent an email containing personal data to the wrong recipient, this could be considered a breach.

Who Does The UK GDPR Apply To?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May of 2018. It was drafted by the European Union (EU) to ensure that personal data is protected. The GDPR was ratified into UK law under the Data Protection Act 2018. We refer to UK GDPR and the DPA 2018 when discussing the laws that inform data processing in the UK since leaving the EU.

All organisations that store and process personal data have to abide by the rules of the UK GDPR. This includes the seven key principles that lie at the heart of the GDPR.

Under these principles, organisations such as councils are expected to:

  • Process data in a lawful, fair and transparent manner.
  • Only collect data for a specific purpose.
  • Collect only data that is adequate, relevant and limited to what is needed for the purposes for which it was collected.
  • Keep personal data accurate and up-to-date.
  • Limit the data storage so that it’s not stored for any longer than necessary
  • Take steps to ensure that the data is secure and protected
  • Demonstrate accountability and responsibility for how data is stored and processed.

Would you know how to spot a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach if one occurred? Read on to find out more information on possible data breach scenarios.

How Could A Council Breach Your Data Protection Rights?

Councils can require access to a wide range of personal data. To be compliant with the UK GDPR, they need to do all they can to keep this data safe and secure.

Below, we have included some examples of how a data breach could potentially occur:

  • Your personal data is stolen in a cyber attack. This means that the thief is able to take out a loan in your name. This could impact your credit score.
  • An employee discusses your case, mentioning you by name to their colleague. However, they do this in the workplace canteen where they’re overheard by another member of staff who isn’t authorised to hear this information.
  • Documents containing personal data need to be disposed of. Instead of shredding the pages, a member of staff simply throws them in the general waste bin.
  • A USB drive containing personal data is left on a train. The USB stick is not password-protected or encrypted, which means that anyone who finds it has access to the information it contains.

Example of a data breach

In 2019, a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach occurred when the council mistakenly published details of foster carers on their website. This included full names and how much they were paid for accommodation and other expenses. Although this was the result of a mistake rather than a malicious attack on the part of a cybercriminal, it is still classed as a data breach.

The authority removed the details from their website and reported the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). This is the independent body that administers effective, proportionate and dissuasive fines to those who do not comply with the UK GDPR.

Source: https://www.cheshire-live.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/confidential-details-published-error-cheshire-17403564

If you’re unsure whether your circumstances constitute a data breach, then get in touch with our advisors today for free advice.

Breaches In Health, Social Care And Housing Benefit Data Protection

You may need to provide your local council with personal data, particularly if you make use of any of their services, such as social services or council housing. This information could include things like:

  • Forms of identification such as scans of your passport or driving license.
  • Social services records, which could contain information on your family circumstances.
  • Rental statements. These could include your name, address and how much you pay each month in rent.
  • Tenancy agreements. These could include your contact details and information about your property.

All of this personal data must be kept safe by law. If an organisation fails to secure your data and you’re harmed as a result, you could possibly be owed compensation.

For more information on what steps you could take if a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach were to occur, read on to the next section. You can also get in touch with our claims team for free legal advice.

Who Should I Notify Of The Data Breach?

If you suspect that you have been the subject of a data breach, you should contact the organisation that you think is responsible for breaching your data. It’s at this stage that you could also request compensation for any financial or mental impact the breach has had on you. However, if you do accept compensation from them at this stage, you won’t be able to claim again.

If three months have passed since your last meaningful communication with the organisation, then the next step is to contact the ICO. However, if you wait more than 3 months from the last meaningful contact, then the ICO will be less likely to investigate your claim. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to act as quickly as you can.

Here at Legal Expert, we will answer your questions and advise you as to whether or not you have a valid claim. We could even connect you with an expert solicitor from our panel.

Steps To Claim For Breach Of Data Protection

As mentioned above, the first step would be to get in touch with Cheshire West and Chester Council. If you believe that the data breach was their responsibility and you have the evidence to back up your claims, then inform them of this.

Should this fail, contact the ICO. If it’s not more than 3 months since you were last in contact with the council, then they may investigate. However, the ICO are not able to award compensation to you and cannot make any decisions related to claims.

If you do decide to pursue a compensation claim, you should collect evidence as to the harm that you have been caused. You may also find it useful to seek legal advice, as data breach law can be complex. If you’re wondering how much you could be owed after a data breach had caused you harm, then our next section could be of interest to you.

What Payout Could I Be Awarded In Damages?

When you’ve been the victim of a data breach, there are a number of different ways this could affect you. There are two potential heads of claim that could be awarded to you in a compensation settlement.

Material Damages

This figure relates directly to any financial loss you have experienced as a result of the data breach. For example, your bank details could have been exposed in a data breach, meaning that money is stolen from your account. Alternatively, a cybercriminal could steal your identity and take a loan out in your name. This could impact your credit score and reducing your chance of getting a mortgage.

During the course of your claim, you will need to present evidence of the financial harm you experienced. This could consist of things like bank statements or your credit score.

Non-material Damages

You can also claim for emotional harm that has been caused or exacerbated by the data breach. For example, a data breach might cause you stress, anxiety or depression. In some cases, it might cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It used to be that you had to have suffered material damages before you were eligible for non-material damages, but this is no longer true. In the case of Vidal-Hall vs Google [2015], the court held that claimants can now claim for non-material damages even if they have not suffered financial loss.

You must be able to prove that your mental health has been affected as a result of the data breach. This is achieved by having an independent medical assessment, which can be arranged as part of your claim.

How Could You Calculate Compensation For A Cheshire West and Chester Council Data Breach?

In the case of Gulati & others vs MGN Ltd. [2015], the judge recommended that non-material damages in data breach claims should be valued in a similar way to personal injury claims. This means that claims are often valued with the help of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is a publication that is made up of a detailed list of injuries and their potential value in compensation.

Below, we have included some compensation brackets from the JCG so you have an idea of what you could be awarded in compensation.

Edit
Injury Description Amount
Psychiatric Damage (d) Less Severe – you will have made virtually a full recovery within 1-2 years, any symptoms that last longer than this will only be minor Up to £7,680
Psychiatric Damage (c) Moderate – a very good recovery will have taken place with ongoing effects not being too disabling £7,680 to £21,730
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (d) Less severe – this award will take into account how long the disability disrupts your life and to what extent Up to £5,500
Psychiatric Damage (a) Severe – issues will be very severe in all aspects of your life, and the prognosis will be poor £51,460 to £108,620

Making A No Win No Fee Claim

If a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach ever occurred and caused you harm, then we could help answer any questions you have. Solicitors on our team work on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that you would be required to pay their fees only if you are successful in being awarded compensation.

As the name suggests, a No Win No Fee agreement ensures that you are not obligated to pay your lawyer if you do not receive a settlement. You also won’t be asked to pay them upfront in order for them to start working on your claim, or while it’s ongoing.

If your claim is successful, a “success fee” will be deducted from your compensation. This will be legally capped to ensure that you always get the majority of the compensation you’re awarded.

For more information about No Win No Fee agreements or to see if you could be connected with a lawyer to represent you on this basis, why not speak to our team today? One of our advisors could connect you with a solicitor if your claim is valid.

Why Work With Legal Expert?

Here at Legal Expert, we work with a team of specialist data breach lawyers. They are experienced in making claims of this kind and will be willing to help you on a No Win No Fee basis.

If you are worried about finding a lawyer near you, then don’t worry. Many aspects of the claims process can be handled remotely, and we can offer representation to claimants all over the country. We can also set up an independent medical assessment in your area. This will help to provide proof of any mental injuries or illnesses caused by a data breach.

Get In Touch With Our Team

Thank you for reading our guide on your rights if a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach took place. Simply give us a call today for free legal advice about making a claim. You can:

  • Call our advisors for free advice and information on 0800 073 8804
  • Chat with us using the pop-up window in the corner
  • Fill out our online form

Read More

We’ve included some links to other helpful guides of ours, as well as information from other sources.

  1. Our general guide to data breach compensation could offer essential advice about making this kind of claim.
  2. Read this guide for more information regarding how to report a data breach.
  3. This guide looks at what to do if you’re affected by an employer data breach.
  4. The “action we’ve taken” section of the ICO website shows some examples of sanctions and fines they have handed out for data breaches.
  5. You can appoint someone else to make a claim for you if you are unable to do so yourself; they are known legally as a “litigation friend“. This page provides more advice about what a litigation friend is and how one can be appointed.
  6. Find out more about the Data Protection Act 2018.

Other Guides That May Help

Questions Commonly Asked About Data Protection

In this section, we have answered some of the more frequently asked questions that we receive.

Who is responsible for a data breach?

In some cases, the data controller could be responsible for a data breach if they failed to do all they could to prevent one from happening. Sometimes, however, a breach can occur even when an organisation has done all it can to secure your data.

What is an example of a data breach?

An example of a data breach could include a tenancy document being sent to the wrong address. This could mean that the person living at the address could have access to your full name, address and other details.

What are three types of sensitive information?

Three good examples of sensitive information are:

  • Religious belief
  • Whether or not you’re a member of a trade union
  • Political affiliations

What is the difference between a data breach and a data security incident?

A data security incident does not necessarily mean that data has been breached. It could just mean that an attempt was made to access information illegally or without proper authorisation. A data breach means that personal information has been exposed.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you better understand your position should a Cheshire West and Chester Council data breach arise. Thank you for reading.

Written by Bibby

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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