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Data Breach At Stafford Borough Council Compensation Claims Guide

Could you claim compensation following a data breach at Stafford Borough Council? In recent times, you may have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It was a European law that was enacted by the Data Protection Act 2018. Since leaving the EU the UK now follows the UK GDPR. The idea is to try and protect the personal data that organisations (data controllers) hold about us. Where data breaches occur, that put data subjects at risk, they must be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). They can issue large fines to companies that have broken the law.

However, the ICO can’t help you to claim compensation if a breach has caused you harm. This could include where the breach makes you ill with anxiety, stress or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It could also include any money you’ve lost because of the breach. If you are thinking of claiming, Legal Expert could help.

What Could You Do If A Council Breached Your Data Privacy?

We have a strong team of experienced solicitors with up to 30 years of experience. They are dedicated to winning the maximum level of compensation in all cases. To make the claims process easier, they offer a No Win No Fee service for any claim they work on.

If you’re interested in making a claim, why not call our team on 0800 073 8804 today? Alternatively, please continue reading if you like more information on data protection legislation before calling.

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A Guide To If You Could Claim For A Data Breach At Stafford Borough Council?

These days it’s really easy to carry out tasks that used to take several days or weeks to achieve. For example, if you wanted to join a council’s housing waiting list, you’d need to wait for an application form to be posted to you. Then you’d need to post it back and wait for it to be processed. Finally, you’d need to wait for a response in the post. Nowadays, all of this can be done online in a matter of minutes.

Data Breach At Stafford Borough Council

Data Breach At Stafford Borough Council Claims Guide

While this is a good thing that helps councils to be much more efficient, how safe is your personal information? Organisations must implement security protocols to try and keep your data safe. Also, before processing any of your data, generally, they need to tell you why and sometimes they’ll need to ask your permission too.

During the course of this guide, we’ll look at what can go wrong when processing personal data. Then we’ll explain why you could be compensated and how much you might be awarded.

You should bear in mind that there is a time limit for data breach claims. Mostly, this is a 6-year timeframe for claims against private companies. However, some claims only have 1-year if they are against a public body or local council. And you should be aware of who you’re claiming against as this will determine how much time you have. Furthermore, you could miss out if you don’t act quickly enough.

We can answer any questions you might have after reading this article. If you call our team today, we’ll review your case for free and advise you of your options.

Statistics On Common Trends In Data Protection

The ICO reports data breach trends. In the latest report for the first quarter of 2021/22, the figures show the following numbers for local government:

Top 5 Non-Cybersecurity Incidents 

  • Emailing data to the wrong person: 40 cases.
  • Posting information to the wrong recipient: 36.
  • Failing to redact personal data: 35.
  • Unauthorised access to data: 15.
  • Theft or loss of paperwork: 13.

Top 5 Cybersecurity Incidents

  • Ransomware: 5 cases.
  • Phishing attacks: 4.
  • Software or hardware configuration errors: 3.
  • Malware: 2.
  • Unauthorised access:1.

It’s important to note that these figures are for all local government bodies.

What Could Be A Data Breach At Stafford Borough Council?

The GDPR clearly explains that data breaches are security incidents that result in personally identifiable information being lost, changed, accessed or disclosed by unauthorised parties or unlawfully.

However, that is not enough to make a data breach compensation claim. Instead, you must be able to show how the data subject failed to protect your personal information. Such grounds to claim might be established if you’ve lost money and/or been made ill because of the breach.

The onus is on you the claimant to prove failure to protect your data. For example, if a hacker broke into a council’s IT systems but all firewalls, software and computers had the latest security updates, then you wouldn’t be able to claim.

We are happy to assess your case, for free, to see if you have the grounds to begin a claim.

Does The UK GDPR Cover Data Held By Councils?

The UK GDPR applies to any personally identifiable information that is stored electronically. Additionally, it covers paper-based documents if they’re held in filing systems. Therefore, it will apply to any such data held by Stafford Borough Council.

When considering whether to process personal data, the council will need to check if there is a lawful basis for doing so. Where an alternative method of achieving the same outcome is possible, such a basis will not exist. Additionally, the council will need to abide by 6 data processing principles under the GDPR:

  • Processing personal information must be legal, fair and transparent.
  • Any information that’s processed has to be limited, adequate and relevant.
  • Personal data mustn’t be used for anything else other than the specified, legitimate and explicit reasons it was collected.
  • Any personal data must be accurate. Additionally, it must be up to date.
  • The security of personal information is paramount.
  • Personal information may not be kept for any longer than is necessary.

Would you know your rights should a data breach at Stafford Borough Council transpire, please call today. We’ll review your case for free.

Types Of Data And UK GDPR Breach

We are now going to review some scenarios that could lead to a data breach. Importantly, not all are illegal they can be an accident or mistake. There are probably too many examples of potential breaches to list here but you’ll see some examples below:

  • In a recent news report, a woman was compensated £10,000 by Hampshire County Council following a data breach. It happened when a school gave her abusive ex-partner her home address.

Source: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/crime/mum-of-three-wins-legal-data-breach-fight-against-hampshire-county-council-after-school-in-havant-gives-ex-partner-her-address-3364413

  • Another example might be where a memory stick or laptop that is not encrypted but contains personal information is lost.
  • Where computer screens are visible by members of the public (in waiting areas for instance) and they can read personal information.
  • If a council officer discusses a client in earshot of another client.
  • Where letters or emails containing your personally identifiable details are sent to the wrong recipient.

Importantly, if they identify a data breach that affects you, and puts you at risk, they must inform you quickly. Also, breaches must be reported to the ICO within 72-hours if they affect freedoms and rights.

Data Breaches Affecting Housing And Social Service Departments

Social services and housing services are two council departments that may store personal information about their clients. While we can’t state every document they might have, here are some examples:

  • Tenancy agreements. It is likely that these can contain your contact details and the address of your property.
  • Care records. Social services records are likely to contain highly sensitive information about a client.
  • Rent statements. These will probably show information about you, your address and any rent arrears you may have.

You can probably imagine the problems that might arise if these documents end up in the wrong hands. They could cause stress, anxiety or depression. Additionally, where criminals are involved, you could lose money. These types of things could be included in a data breach compensation claim.

Such claims might be complex and tricky to prove. However, our solicitors can help you through the process. Why not call today to find out more?

Reporting A Breach Of The UK GDPR

Based on what we’ve said already, you might think that the ICO should be contacted as soon as you suspect a data breach. However, there is a more formal process to follow. Initially, you can register a complaint with the council and ask them to investigate.

When they reply, you will have the opportunity to escalate the complaint if you don’t agree with their response. You can contact the ICO if:

  • You still aren’t happy with the council’s response.
  • Within 3-months since the last meaningful update.

It is possible that your solicitor could reach an amicable settlement with the council. Discuss your case with your solicitor. After that, they’ll advise you whether to contact the ICO or not.

The Compensation Claim Process

So, to reiterate, to start a claim, we’d suggest that you:

  1. Collect any evidence to support your allegations. This might include financial documents, medical reports and letters from the council about the breach.
  2. Call our free advice centre and let us review your options.

There’s no risk in calling as you’re under no obligation to make a claim. We’ll supply free advice regardless of what you decide to do next.

What The Compensation Payout May Include

It would be really nice if you could state a compensation figure that you’d like to be paid. However, data breach claims don’t work in that way. To be paid compensation, you need to justify each part of your claim and provide substantiating evidence. Mostly, claims will comprise of:

  • Material damages. This is compensation that covers expenses, financial losses or costs caused by the breach.
  • Non-material damages. This is harder to work out as it’s based on any psychological suffering that’s resulted from the breach.

As an example, you may need to claim back money lost because of criminal activity. This may be the case if your details were used to commit identity theft and money was taken from your bank account. Similarly, if your doctor has diagnosed that you suffered from stress because of the breach, this could be added to your claim.

Beyond that, data breach compensation claims must also look at any future suffering too. For that reason, you may be asked to attend a local medical assessment. This will be conducted by an independent specialist. They’ll ask questions about how you’ve been affected and may refer to your medical records. Once they’ve finished, the specialist will prepare a report detailing your injuries and your prognosis.

Our belief is that you’ll have a better chance of being compensated properly if you have a solicitor on your side. Our solicitors will always listen to how you’ve been affected before filing your claim. They’ll do so to try and ensure nothing is missed out and that you receive the highest level of compensation possible for your specific case. Please call our team if you’re ready to start your claim.

Estimating Compensation For A Data Breach At Stafford Borough Council

In this section, we’ll look at potential compensation figures. We’ll concentrate on psychological injuries that could be sustained following a data breach. As mentioned above, any financial loss will be worked out separately.

In an important case at the Court of Appeal in 2015, a judgement was made that it is OK to seek damages for psychological injuries caused by a data breach when there has been no financial effect.

In personal injury claims, the Judicial College Guidelines are used to help determine settlement amounts. Therefore, we’ve used the same figures in the table that follows:

Psychiatric InjurySeverityAdditional CommentsPossible Compensation
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSevereSevere symptoms of PTSD affecting all aspects of life (work, education, relationships etc). A very poor prognosis will be given.£56,180 to £94,470
Moderately seriousAs above but with a better prognosis.£21,730 to £56,180
ModerateModerate symptoms of PTSD but professional support should help the victim to recover somewhat.£7,680 to £21,730
Less seriousWhere most symptoms have resolved in less than 2-yearsUp to £7,680
Psychological DamageSevereSevere psychological harm that affects work, relationships and life in general.£51,460 to £108,620
ModerateThere will be a good prognosis in this category as the claimant will already have seen some improvements.£5,500 to £17,900
Less seriousThe length of the disability will play a major role in this section. Up to £5,500

Importantly, no two cases are the same. Therefore, please don’t use these figures as anything other than guidance at this point. When you call, you may be offered a more personalised estimate once your case is better understood.

No Win No Fee Claims Solicitors For A Data Breach At Stafford Borough Council

It is very common for claimants to be concerned about the cost of hiring a solicitor. However, if you work with us, your solicitor will be funded by a No Win No Fee agreement. That will make everything a little easier and less stressful for you. That’s because you will only have to pay solicitor’s fees if you win compensation.

We’ll review your claim first and, if it’s suitable, your solicitor will send a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) for you to read. This will clearly show what needs to be done before your solicitor is paid.

Where your case is won, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from your compensation to cover the cost of their work. This success fee is a percentage of your compensation. It’s capped by law and listed in the CFA so you’ll know how much you’ll pay from the start.

If you’d like to know more about our No Win No Fee service, please contact our advisors today.

Finding A Data Breach Solicitor

To find a specialist solicitor to help with data breach claims call our free advice centre. You’ll get free legal advice and we’ll review your options with you. If your claim is suitable, we could appoint one of our solicitors to represent you. Importantly, all claims we handle are processed on a No Win No Fee basis.

Our solicitors are friendly, provide regular updates and are available during your claim if you have any questions. Don’t just take our word about it, though. Why not read some of our reviews to learn more?

Talk To A Claims Specialist

If a data breach at Stafford Borough Council occurred would you now know what rights you have? Here’s how you can reach us:

  • Call a specialist advisor on 0800 073 8804 for a free claim assessment.
  • Ask for advice via live chat.
  • Email info@legalexpert.co.uk to let us know how the data breach has affected you.
  • Use our online form to register your interest to claim.

When you call, we’ll offer free advice about your options. You’re under no obligation to make a claim but we could appoint a solicitor if your case is strong enough.

Related Claims Services

In this section, we have supplied some links to information that may prove useful in data breach claims.

Data Protection – Information from the UK government on how the Data Protection Act applies.

The UK GDPR – Updated information from the ICO on how Brexit has affected the GDPR.

Signs Of Anxiety – NHS Information on how anxiety can be diagnosed and treated.

Lost Personal Data – Information on your rights if information about you is lost.

Social Services Data Breach – Advice on what to do if you’ve suffered because of a data breach by social services.

Reporting Data Breaches – Details of what to do if you become aware of a GDPR data breach.

FAQs About Your Data Rights

In the final section of our guide, we’ve answered some common questions relating to data processing.

Do I have the right to erasure and protection of data?

In certain circumstances, Article 17 of the UK GDPR allows for you to ask that data about you is erased. For example, if the organisation only has your information because you have consented to it, you can withdraw your consent. This rule is also called the right to be forgotten.

Is the council a data processor or controller?

Generally, councils or local authorities will define why they need to use personal information to achieve certain outcomes. Therefore, they would be the data controller and possibly also the processor. This means they will need to abide by the principles of the GDPR.

Are data processors and controllers different?

A data controller defines why and how personal data will be processed. The data processor will process personal information on behalf of the data controller. The data processor may be a separate organisation or individual working for the data controller.

How will I be notified about a data breach?

If a data controller finds out about a data breach, they must inform any data subjects who might be at risk. This should happen without undue delay. The communication may be sent by email or in writing.

Thanks for reading our article about steps that could be taken if a data breach at Stafford Borough Council arose. Please call today if you’d like any further information.

Guide By Hambridge

Edited By Melissa.

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