My Solicitor Breached My Data – Can I Make A GDPR Compensation Claim
By Daniel Archer. Last Updated 22nd February 2023. If your solicitor has breached your personal data under GDPR, you could be entitled to compensation.
In this guide, we’ll explain the circumstances in which a lawyer or solicitor could share your personal information without your consent, potentially exposing you to financial or psychological damage.
When working with a solicitor, the information you provide them with is often personal and sensitive. It’s probably not the sort of information you’d like to be shared around or exposed by a data leak.
If it is, there is the potential for you to suffer emotionally and also financially. If that’s true, you could be compensated for that suffering.
In this article, we are going to look at making a data breach claim if a solicitor breached GDPR. We’ll look at how breaches might take place, what harm can result from them and the amount of data breach compensation that could be paid.
How Do I Make A Solicitors Data Protection Breach Compensation Claim?
Legal Expert specialises in helping with compensation claims. Our team of advisors provide a no-obligation case review as well as free legal advice. If they believe you have a valid claim, they could connect you to one of our specialist data breach solicitors. Importantly, if your claim is accepted, the solicitor will work for you on a No Win No Fee basis.
To begin a claim for harm resulting from a data breach by a solicitor, please call us today on 0800 073 8804. Alternatively, please continue reading if you’d like more information on your right to compensation before calling.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Solicitors Data Protection Breach Compensation Claims
- What Is A Solicitor Data Protection Breach Compensation Claim?
- GDPR Compliance For A Solicitor Or Law Firm
- Data Protection Breach Incidents Affecting Solicitors
- Could I Report A Solicitor To The Information Commissioner?
- How Could Victims Of Data Breaches By A Solicitor Be Compensated?
- Solicitors Data Protection Breach Compensation Calculator
- How To Claim For A Data Breach By A Solicitor
- What Evidence Can I Gather To Seek Compensation After A Solicitors Data Breach?
- No Win No Fee Solicitors Data Protection Breach Compensation
- Start A Data Breach Claim Against A Solicitor
- Additional Claim Resources
- Law And Justice Data Breach Statistics
- FAQs On Data Breaches By A Solicitor
A Guide To Solicitors Data Protection Breach Compensation Claims
You have probably heard about the General Data Protection Regulation by now. It is more commonly referred to by the acronym the GDPR. It became part of UK law when The Data Protection Act 2018 was implemented.
The main aim of these laws is to give you (the data subject) extra control over how information about you is used. Organisations (called data controllers and processors), like law firms, must have a lawful reason to use your personal information nowadays. This may involve them asking your permission and telling you why they need to process your data.
Additionally, your data must be kept as secure as possible to try and prevent cybersecurity attacks and minimise the risk of exposing your information. Any organisation that does not meet its data protection obligations could face a visit from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). They are able to issue financial penalties to companies found guilty of breaking the rules. Importantly, you would still need to make a GDPR data breach claim if you’re harmed as the ICO can’t award compensation.
Claims for solicitor data breaches have a time limit. For most claims, the limitation period is 6-years from the date you obtained knowledge of the breach. Cases that centre around human rights breaches are limited to 1-year.
After reading our guide, if you would like to discuss your options, please call our team. They will answer any questions you might have and offer a free review of your case. If it looks to be strong enough, you could be paired with one of our data breach solicitors.
What Is A Solicitor Data Protection Breach Compensation Claim?
All data controllers are obliged to keep personal data as secure as possible. This could mean introducing new security measures and procedures. Solicitors data protection breach compensation may be possible if you have been harmed by a breach.
Data breaches occur following a security incident that means information about you has been lost, destroyed, disclosed, altered or accessed in a way that you have not permitted.
The type of suffering that could be included in your claim varies from case to case. You could claim if you’ve lost money as a result of the breach. Additionally, you could ask to be compensated for any pain, suffering or loss of amenity that has been caused by anxiety, distress or other forms of psychiatric injuries.
How Could A Solicitor Data Breach Happen?
There are several ways a solicitors data breach could happen. They include:
- If the company is attacked by cybercriminals because its IT security isn’t strong enough. Methods used by hackers include malware, phishing emails, key loggers and viruses.
- Where a memory stick or portable storage device that is unencrypted is left behind on the likes of a bus or train.
- If physical records relating to your case are not disposed of securely and end up in the public domain. (This may even include things like your account number or sort code.)
- Where an email or letter containing information about you and your case are mailed to the wrong address.
It is important to note that you are able to claim if the data breach was caused accidentally, deliberately, or illegally. Please call one of our specialist advisors if you’d like us to check whether you could claim.
GDPR Compliance For A Solicitor Or Law Firm
As data controllers, law firms must try to ensure personal data is processed in accordance with a number of protocols. When dealing with personal data, they must:
- Process it using legal, fair and obvious methods.
- Explain to the data subject why they are going to use personal information.
- Only collect required data and nothing that is not relevant.
- Allow for personal data to be kept up to date. If old or incorrect information is found, it should be destroyed or altered.
- Never retain personal information any longer than it is required.
- Process data as securely as possible.
The GDPR explains that data that could potentially be used to identify somebody is covered. This includes information about names, mobile phone numbers, home addresses and email addresses. Furthermore, the GDPR also says that data relating to personal characteristics that might indirectly identify an individual is also covered. This might include information regarding disabilities, age, marital status, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
If you suspect that a law firm hasn’t acted within the scope of the GDPR, and that means you have suffered financially or mentally, you might be entitled to seek compensation. If that’s the case, why not talk to an advisor today so that your case can be reviewed for free?
Data Protection Breach Incidents Affecting Solicitors
According to the ICO, the most common data protection issues relating to barristers and solicitors are the loss of paperwork or information being sent to the wrong recipient. As we explained right at the beginning of this article, either of those instances could result in embarrassment, distress or anxiety for the data subject.
In 2015, ICO statistics relating to data security incidents in the legal sector looked like this:
- Theft or loss of paperwork containing personal information – 20.
- Information being faxed or posted to the wrong person – 13.
- Loss of unencrypted devices – 10.
- Emails sent to the wrong recipient – 10.
- Documents not securely disposed of – 4.
- Putting personal data on web pages – 2.
- Exposing data because of an insecure web page – 2.
- Data exposure because data wasn’t redacted – 1.
The ICO has the power to fine any organisation that is guilty of data protection failures and it has done so. In October 2012, they dished out a £120,000 Civil Monetary Penalty to Stoke City Council. This was due to the fact a solicitor emailed the wrong recipient 11 times. Some of the information sent was regarded as highly sensitive and confidential.
In the next section, we will explain the process of referring a solicitor to the ICO. As mentioned already, this won’t result in compensation being paid. However, an investigation report might prove useful if you do decide to claim. If you are considering claiming, please feel free to get in touch with our team today.
Could I Report A Solicitor To The Information Commissioner?
The Information Commissioner’s Office is responsible for a number of data protection laws including the GDPR. As we have already said, they have legal powers enabling them to launch investigations, fine companies and enforce changes in data protection methods.
However, you can’t go directly to them. The first thing you must do is complain formally to the law firm in question. After they have provided a response, you have to escalate your complaint if you do not agree with it.
Once you cannot escalate your complaint any higher, you can get in touch with the ICO. They say that you should do so after 3-months without meaningful communication. Additionally, they advise that complaints shouldn’t take too long to get to them because you might be turned away.
After the ICO has conducted an investigation, they will provide a report. This might include information about what happened, the changes they’d like to see and information on any financial penalty they issued. But, as we’ve said, they won’t award any compensation.
Your only option here is to start legal proceedings yourself, and that’s where we could help. Our specialist data breach solicitors offer a No Win No fee solution for all claims they take on. Why not call to find out if your case is suitable?
How Could Victims Of Data Breaches By A Solicitor Be Compensated?
Generally, compensation claims for harm resulting from data breaches are made up of two parts:
- Material damages – where you claim back any expenses, costs or financial losses linked with the data breach.
- Non-material damages – where the claim centres on mental suffering that has resulted from the breach, such as depression, stress or anxiety.
The reason we advise you to claim using a solicitor is that there’s a lot of information required to prove the full extent of your suffering. As well as calculating an accurate figure for the suffering that has already happened, you might need to look at future suffering too.
If you are looking for help with a solicitors data breach claim, our team is ready to support you. We offer a telephone consultation and free legal advice for all cases. If the case appears viable, we could appoint one of our specialist solicitors to help you claim.
Solicitors Data Protection Breach Compensation Calculator
Let’s now move on to consider how much compensation could be awarded for any suffering that has happened because of a solicitors data breach. In this regard, we are concerned with psychiatric injuries that result from depression, distress or anxiety.
A case heard at the Court of Appeal changed data breach claims significantly. In the hearing of Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc , the Court held that:
- Claims are possible where the claimant has not lost any money but they have suffered injuries. Before this point in time, financial damage was necessary to claim compensation for psychological injuries.
- If compensation is awarded for mental damage, the injuries should be valued with reference to amounts paid in personal injury cases.
Therefore, to show the levels paid in personal injury law, we have supplied figures from the Judicial College Guidelines in our compensation table below.
Type of Claim Severity Settlement Range Additional Notes
General Psychiatric Damage Less severe - Severe £1,540 - £115,730 Factors considered in these claims include: 1) How the claimant can cope with life and work; 2) The impact on personal relationships; 3) If treatment will help; 4) Future vulnerability; 5) Prognosis.
PTSD Severe £59,860 - £100,670 PTSD Moderately Severe £23,150 - £59,860 PTSD Moderate £8,180 - £23,150 PTSD Less severe £3,950 - £8,180
You may notice that awards are largely based on the severity of your injuries. Therefore, you’ll need to prove the true extent of your suffering. To help achieve this, you will need a medical assessment during your claim. Our solicitors will always attempt to arrange these locally.
At your meeting, a medical specialist, who is independent of the case, will ask a series of questions. They will do this to try and understand how you have suffered. They could also refer to your medical records.
Once they have completed their assessment, the specialist will prepare a medical report. This will explain the level of suffering sustained as a result of the data breach and a prognosis for the future. It will be used to prove the damage caused by the data breach and will help your solicitor value your claim more precisely.
How To Claim For A Data Breach By A Solicitor
As we’ve almost covered everything about starting data breach claims, we thought it would be good to summarise the process here. If you do want to data breach claim against a solicitor who has caused you to suffer, you should:
- Complain to their law firm in the first instance.
- Escalate your complaint if you don’t agree with the response provided.
- After 3-months have passed without meaningful communication, you could ask the ICO to start an investigation.
- After an investigation, the ICO will provide a report. They may also fine the company in question or compel them to change the way data security is implemented.
Importantly, even if the ICO finds the defendant guilty, they can’t force them to compensate you. Therefore, you will need to take your own action. We advise that you should wait until the ICO has investigated though. If you call our team, they could connect you with one of our data breach lawyers who’ll advise you whether you need to interact with the ICO or not.
What Evidence Can I Gather To Seek Compensation After A Solicitors Data Breach?
There can be many benefits to working with a lawyer when making a data breach claim. For instance, if you’ve suffered financial loss or emotional harm due to your personal data becoming compromised after a breach of the UK GDPR, a lawyer could help you gather evidence. This can be done to support your claim. If you have no way of proving that a data breach has impacted your life, then you will not be able to claim compensation.
Following a breach of the UK GDPR, a solicitor of ours could help you with gathering e such as:
- Correspondence – This could cover a variety of different forms of communication. For example, a solicitor responsible for a data breach has an obligation to inform you without undue delay if it puts your rights and freedoms at risk. Alternatively, if you suspect a breach has occurred, you can notify the organisation directly. Whether this is done by email or letter, make sure you have a copy as this can be used as evidence to support your claim.
- Proof of financial loss – This can include bank statements showing any money that has been taken from your account, credit card statements showing any loans that have been taken out in your name and credit reports to show the impact the breach has had on your credit score.
- Proof of emotional harm – You can request medical records if you sought medical advice for the emotional impact the breach has had on you.
To find out more about what could help support your claim, get in touch with our advisors today.
No Win No Fee Solicitors Data Protection Breach Compensation
We know that many claims don’t end up being made because the claimant is too worried about losing money on solicitor’s fees. You can rest easy about that though because our team of data breach No Win No Fee solicitors provides a]service for claims they agree to work on. That allows you to have a less stressful claim because your financial risks will be lower.
Before accepting your case, the solicitor will need to verify that it has a reasonable chance of success. If they agree to represent you, your solicitor will supply you with a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). The official name of a No Win No Fee agreement, the CFA is the contract that will show you what your solicitor will need to achieve before they receive any payment for their work. It will also clarify that:
- Solicitor’s fees won’t have to be paid prior to the claim commencing.
- You will not be asked to pay the solicitor’s fees during the processing of the claim.
- If your case does not succeed, you won’t need to cover any of the solicitor’s fees.
In cases where there is a positive outcome, your solicitor will keep a small percentage of your settlement amount. This will be used to cover the cost of their work. Yours will be clearly explained by the CFA so you will understand how much is payable before you sign up. Also, we should let you know that success fees are legally capped.
Start A Data Breach Claim Against A Solicitor
If you feel that you have a valid case for making a GDPR data breach compensation claim against a solicitor, we could help. To contact Legal Expert, you can:
- Give us a call on 0800 073 8804 to discuss your options.
- Use live chat to explain how you’ve suffered online.
- Talk to us about your claim online.
- Email us to let us know what has happened. Our email address is email@example.com.
Additional Claim Resources
Thank you for reading about why you could claim compensation for the harm resulting from a solicitors data protection breach. We will use this section to show you some resources that may come in useful during your claim.
- The Solicitors Regulation Authority – The SRA takes action against solicitors who don’t follow the rules and ensure high standards are met.
- Data Protection Guide – Advice from the ICO on how data protection rules should be implemented.
- Anxiety UK – This charity helps people affected by anxiety by offering support and advice.
- Now we are going to look at some more Legal Expert guides that may also help you.
- HR Data Breaches – Information about claiming for suffering as a result of a data breach by the HR department.
- Mortgage Company Breaches – Free guidance on claiming because you suffered after a mortgage company data breach.
- Lost Medical Records – Advice on claiming if you’ve suffered because your medical records went missing.
- Medical Data Breaches – This guide discusses how data breaches in medical facilities may occur and how you may be able to claim for such issues.
- Employer Personal Data Breaches – Check out our guide on how you may be able to claim compensation when affected by a data breach against your employer.
Law And Justice Data Breach Statistics
In this section, we have added some statistics relating to cybersecurity data breaches reported to the ICO for the period January to March 2021. The data relates to the legal and justice sectors.
FAQs On Data Breaches By A Solicitor
In our final section, we have tried to answer some questions that are commonly asked in relation to solicitors data protection breach claims. Should you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to call.
Can I sue a solicitor or law firm for data breaches?
If your solicitor or law firm has exposed personal information about you, it may be possible to sue them. To do so, you would need to prove that the breach happened and that you suffered mental or financial damage as a result.
Can you get compensation from a solicitor for a data breach?
If a solicitor data breach means you suffer in some way, then it may be possible to claim compensation. For example, you may be able to claim for emotional distress. You could also claim back any money that the breach has cost you.
What constitutes a breach of data protection?
A breach of data protection is where information that could identify you is lost, stolen, altered, accessed or disclosed in a manner that you have not authorised. A simple example might be where a letter containing your personal information is posted to the incorrect address.
Do I need to report a solicitor data breach to the Law Society?
When you head to the “report a data breach” section of the Law Society’s website, the advice given is to report the data breach instead to the ICO. The ICO has many useful resources for you. Included in this is a self-assessment to see if you actually need to make a report to the ICO.
Can I claim compensation for a solicitor data breach?
Yes, it is possible. However, in order to make a data breach claim against a solicitor, you must have suffered some kind of harm due to the data breach. This harm could take the form of financial losses or even an impact on your mental health.
Financial losses could occur if your solicitor leaks your bank details. Alternatively, your personal data being leaked may lead to depression or anxiety developing as a result.
You must also have proof of the data breach being caused by the failings of the organisation. If a breach happened despite them having done all they could to protect it, you would not be able to claim.
How much compensation will I receive if a solicitor has breached my data?
This can depend on a few different things. For instance, the level of your financial loss will need to be taken into account. Additionally, any psychological injuries will require assessment in order to value your claim.
Each claim is unique, so the amount you could receive will differ on a case-by-case basis.
Other Helpful Guides
- I Suffered Stress Due To A Data Breach – Am I Eligible To Receive Compensation?
- Employer Personal Data Breach Compensation Claims
- My Personal Data Has Been Lost After A Breach – What Are My Rights?
- University Data Breach Compensation Claims
- Can I Get Compensation For A Loss Of Medical Records?
- Find out how to claim bank data breach compensation. Learn more about the claims process with our guide.
Thank you for reading our guide to claiming solicitors data protection breach compensation. Feel free to contact Legal Expert online or by phone if you’re looking for support from data breach solicitors in the UK or have any other enquiries about solicitors specialising in data protection act or data protection solicitor no win no fee claims.