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

Your local council might need to hold a range of data for a number of different reasons. For instance, if you’re a social housing tenant or under the care of social services, they may need to hold your data in order to provide you with these services. They could also hold information on what school or nursery you have applied to have your child attend. But would you know what to do if a Harlow District Council data breach occurred? This is what we will look at in this guide.

Harlow District Council data breach claims guide

Harlow District Council data breach claims guide

Personal data is classed as any information that can be used to identify you, whether on its own or when combined with other information. There are regulations that dictate what organisations must do to keep your personal data safe and secure, which we will look at in greater detail later on in this guide.

So, if your personal data is exposed, then this can affect your finances and your mental health. If failings on the part of Harlow District Council resulted in a breach that has caused you financial or emotional harm could this lead to a claim? This is what we will look at in this guide.

We hope that this guide will be helpful and informative. But if you still have questions after you have finished reading, you can get in touch by:

  • Calling our friendly team of advisors on 0800 073 8804
  • Emailing or writing to us with online form
  • Using the ‘live support’ option bottom right of this screen

Select A Section

  1. A Guide On Claims For A Harlow District Council Data Breach
  2. Cyber Security Statistics
  3. What Could Be A Harlow District Council Data Breach?
  4. Government Exemptions To The GDPR
  5. How Could Harlow Council Breach Your Data Privacy?
  6. Social Services, Council Housing And Related Data Breaches
  7. Notifying ICO About Breaches Of Data Privacy
  8. How To Sue A Council For Breach Of Data Protection
  9. Compensation Payouts
  10. How To Calculate Compensation For A Harlow District Council Data Breach
  11. Data Breach Compensation No Win No Fee Claims
  12. Find A Lawyer To Handle A Harlow District Council Data Breach
  13. Getting In Touch With Our Team
  14. Find Similar Guides
  15. FAQs With Answers

A Guide On Claims For A Harlow District Council Data Breach

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU legislation brought into effect that protects the data rights of individuals (known as data subjects). The Data Protection Act 2018 ratified the GDPR into UK law. Since the UK has left the EU, personal data must be handled in accordance with the UK GDPR.

These laws are enforced by a non-departmental body called the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who can investigate and issue fines for breaches of personal data. The ICO does not pay you compensation; to do that, you would need to launch a data breach claim. However, their conclusion could strengthen your case if you choose to pursue a claim.

In this guide, we will explain what a data breach is and the kinds of things that could lead to data being exposed. We’ll also examine the different kinds of damages available and how a landmark Court of Appeal case changed the way data breach compensation is awarded. We conclude by explaining the advantages of a No Win No Fee agreement in funding legal representation.

Additionally, you have 6 years to start a claim for compensation following a data breach. This is reduced to one year if the breach involved a breach of your human rights. However, we suggest seeking legal advice as soon as possible; pursuing compensation while the events are fresh in your mind could increase your chance of success.

Cyber Security Statistics

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport produced a survey in 2021 of data breaches. It showed that 39% of businesses and 26% of charities had experienced some kind of breach or external assault of their information in the last 12 months. In addition to this, of those that identified a data breach, 27% of businesses and 23% of charities reported experiencing them at least once a week.

The graph below shows the percentage of businesses (excluding charities) that had directors, trustees and senior members of staff who considered cybersecurity as a high priority. As we can see, the percentage has fluctuated over the last few years but has increased on the whole since 2016.

Harlow District Council data breach guide graph

Cybersecurity data statistics graph

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2021/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2021

What Could Be A Harlow District Council Data Breach?

The ICO describe personal data as any information that can be used to positively identify you. A data breach is a breach of security that causes accidental or deliberate alteration, destruction, loss or access of data without authorisation.

A data breach can affect information that is stored physically or digitally. For example, an email containing personal information being sent to someone who isn’t authorised to see it is classed as a data breach. In addition, if someone was to leave medical records in an unlocked filing cabinet which was then accessed by unauthorised people, this could also be considered a breach.

A breach of your personal data could cause you harm, both financially and mentally. If your credit card details are exposed, this could lead to your money being stolen or your credit score being affected. An HR data breach could lead to details of a disciplinary being accessed by your colleagues, which could cause you severe stress or depression. In some cases, you may even experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

Government Exemptions To The GDPR

Councils, just like all other organisations, must adhere to the UK GDPR when handling and storing data. They are referred to as the data controller.

A data controller must adhere to the seven key principles of the UK GDPR. These are:

  1. Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency- the reasons for collecting the data must be clear, obvious and legal.
  2. Purpose limitation– they must only use the data for the purposes for which it was collected.
  3. Data minimisation- the data controller should only collect data that is adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary.
  4. Accuracy- the data must be accurate and kept up to date. If the data is incorrect, the data controller must take all reasonable steps to correct it as soon as possible.
  5. Storage limitation- data should not be kept for longer than necessary for the purposes it was collected.
  6. Integrity and confidentiality (security)- organisations must have security systems in place to protect data.
  7. Accountability- the data controller should take responsibility for how they handle data and their compliance with the rest of the principles of the UK GDPR.

How Could Harlow Council Breach Your Data Privacy?

As we’ve already mentioned, a local council may need to collect your data for a wide range of reasons. But how could failings on the part of a local authority lead to your data being exposed? Below, we look at some of the ways a data breach could potentially occur:

  • Paperwork containing personal data is put into a general waste bin instead of being shredded and disposed of securely
  • A laptop containing personal data is not password protected and is left unattended in the office canteen
  • An unencrypted USB drive containing personal data is left on a train
  • An email containing personal information is sent to an unauthorised third party
  • An organisation fails to update its cybersecurity system. As a result, hackers are able to access your personal information and commit identity theft
  • Tenancy information is sent to the wrong address despite the correct address being on file
  • An ex-council employee retains access to systems, meaning that they can access your personal data

Social Services, Council Housing And Related Data Breaches

Harlow District Council might hold the information of those who live in social housing or are under the care of social services. Those who use these services may be more vulnerable, such as the elderly.

The council will hold information on these individuals, including:

  • Names and addresses
  • Contact details such as phone numbers or email addresses
  • Notes containing information about your personal circumstances in the case of social services
  • Documents that are used to verify your identity, such as scans of your passport
  • Tenancy audits
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Rent statements

Notifying ICO About Breaches Of Data Privacy

If a data breach occurs that poses a threat to your rights or freedoms, the organisation responsible must report it to the ICO within 72 hours. They also need to tell you about the breach without undue delay.

If you suspect that an organisation is in breach of the UK GDPR in the way it is handling your data, you should report it to them initially. The ICO provides a template that you can use to raise your concerns.

If you want to make a complaint about an organisation to the ICO you must do so within 3 months of the organisation’s last response. You do not have to do this, but it can strengthen your case if they investigate and decide in your favour. However, you should bear in mind that the court can come to a different decision to the ICO.

Knowing what steps to take if a Harlow District Council data breach occurred may not always be clear. That is why our advisors can offer free legal advice. Get in touch with our team today. One of our advisors will be happy to offer you free legal advice.

How To Sue A Council For Breach Of Data Protection

If you have had your personal information exposed by a council or local authority and you’ve experienced financial or emotional harm as a result, you may wish to seek legal advice. Having personal data breached does not automatically entitle you to compensation. If an organisation has done all it can to protect and keep your data safe but a breach still occurs it is very unlikely that they will be liable.

Upon seeking legal advice, your solicitor may suggest that you make a complaint to the ICO about the breach that occurred. In other circumstances, they may suggest that you pursue a claim without making a complaint.

Should a Harlow District Council data breach occur you can call our claims team 24 hours a day 7 days a week. An advisor will assess your case in a consultation. This informal chat which is free of charge will evaluate the merits of your case. If you have a valid data breach claim one of our solicitors could offer to represent you. Their service is No Win No Fee.

Compensation Payouts

There are two kinds of damages that are available to you in a claim following a data breach. Material damages compensate you for the actual, out-of-pocket expenses that you can demonstrate the data breach created. This might include damage to your credit rating or money directly stolen from your bank accounts.

Non-material damages take into account the ill-health or psychological damage caused. If you are claiming compensation for psychological harm caused by a data breach, then the injuries should be based on personal injury law. This often means referring to a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines, which provides guideline compensation brackets for a range of injuries.

 How To Calculate Compensation For A Harlow District Council Data Breach

In Vidal-Hall v Google [2015], the Court of Appeal held that claimants could receive compensation for non-material damages even if no claim was made for material damages. Before this, you could only claim non-material damages if you also suffered financial harm.

Below, we’ve created a table using the guidelines provided by the Judicial College. These show how much compensation you could be entitled to:

Type of injury Potential award bracket
Psychiatric injury (severe) Resulting in marked inability to function with everyday life. Up to £108,620
Psychiatric injury (moderately severe) Showing significant problems coping with things like education, work and relationships. Some recovery may be made with professional help, but the damage will be significantly disabling. Up to £51,460
Psychiatric Injury (moderate ) There will be marked improvements with treatment and prognosis is good. Up to £17,900
Psychiatric injury (less severe) Residual issues that yield over time to treatment. Up to £5,500
Post-traumatic stress disorder (severe) Inability to cope at anything approaching a pre-trauma level. Up to £94,470
Post-traumatic stress disorder (moderately severe Symptoms which cause significant disability for the foreseeable future. Up to £56,180
Post-traumatic stress disorder (moderate) Where recovery is largely complete and any residual effects don’t grossly disable the injured person. Up to £21,730
Post-traumatic stress disorder (less severe) Awards in this bracket will depend on the extent to which daily activities and sleep were impacted. Up to £7,680

Please bear in mind that the figures included in the table are just guidelines. They aren’t a guarantee as to how much compensation you may receive, as each case is valued independently.

Data Breach Compensation No Win No Fee Claims

Many of us have heard the phrase “No Win No Fee” in relation to legal representation. But what does it actually mean?

A No Win No Fee agreement is sometimes formally referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). It means that your solicitor won’t ask you to pay anything in order for them to start your claim or while it’s ongoing. You also won’t be asked to pay if your claim doesn’t succeed.

If it does succeed, then your solicitor’s fees will be covered by a small, capped “success fee” taken from your compensation. Therefore, this will ensure that you always get the majority of the compensation you’re owed.

If you would like free legal advice, why not speak to our team?

Find A Lawyer To Handle A Harlow District Council Data Breach

You have a number of different options when looking for legal representation to help with your claim. You may decide to use a lawyer based on a recommendation from a family member or friend or choose a solicitor in your local area.

However, you can also get in touch with Legal Expert to be appointed a solicitor. When you claim through us, there’s no need to worry about choosing a solicitor in your area. Our data breach lawyers can offer representation remotely, no matter where you are in the country. You can also have a look at our review page to see how we’ve helped past claimants get the compensation they deserve.

Getting In Touch With Our Team

We hope this guide has helped to show you what steps you could take if a Harlow District Council data breach ever occurred.

If you have any queries or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can also get in touch with us if you would like to begin a claim today. Simply:

  • Call our team on 0800 073 8804
  • Or email or write to us using our online form
  • Alternatively, you can use the ‘live support’ option at the bottom right of this screen.

Find Similar Guides

FAQs With Answers

In this final section, we’ve included answers to some of the commonly asked questions around data breach claims:  

Is there anywhere else I should report the breach?

You can report the breach of data protection to the ICO for them to investigate. However, you don’t need to do this in order to pursue a claim.

What evidence and information will I need?

The results of a medical assessment can support a claim for emotional damage caused by a data breach. To prove actual financial loss, you will need bills, receipts and statements that show a loss of money or impact on your finances. But first to have any foundation for a claim you must prove that your data was not adequately protected.

How long does a data breach claim take?

There are no absolute timescales to making a claim, and the time it takes can depend on how complex the case is. If the data breach claim is straight forward it could be settled within months, whereas complex ones may take longer. Note, though, that you must file a claim against a private company within 6 years. And you only have 1 year to do so against a public council.

Thank you for reading our guide on steps you could follow if a Harlow District Council data breach ever happened

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    Meet The Team

    • 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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