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University Of Oxford Data Breach Compensation Claims Guide

When you decide that you’d like to enrol on any type of educational course, you will no doubt have to supply plenty of personal, and sometimes sensitive, information. Universities and other establishments require this information to help manage your progress. However, they also need to take steps to try and protect that information as, in the wrong hands, it could cause a lot of problems. In this article, we’re going to look at why data breach claims against the University of Oxford might be justifiable, what harm can result and how much compensation could be awarded.

University of Oxford data breach claims guide

University of Oxford data breach claims guide

Since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation, which is often shortened to its acronym GDPR, a lot more control over how personal data is used has been given to individuals (data subjects). Because of the introduction of the GDPR and The Data Protection Act 2018, organisations (data controllers) only process personal information after they’ve informed the data subject of the reason and sought their permission.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can investigate any organisation that breaches data protection laws which means they need to take steps to prevent data from being leaked. If data breaches cause you any form of suffering, you could go on to begin a compensation claim.

Legal Expert provides a no-obligation consultation and free legal advice about data breach claims. Should your claim appear to be strong enough, an advisor could connect you to one of our data breach lawyers. If they accept your claim, they’ll work for you on a No Win No Fee basis.

To discuss how we could support your claim today, please call us on 0800 073 8804. You can also write to us about your case here, or chat with us now using our live chat. Otherwise, please carry on reading to find out more about university data breach claims.

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A Guide To Data Breach Claims Against The University Of Oxford

Since the GDPR’s implementation, the way in which many daily processes happen has changed. You’ll probably have noticed that when you book a restaurant, shop online, register for medical treatment or enrol on an educational course, forms have become a bit longer.

You’ll often see a detailed explanation about how your personal information will be used and if it will be shared. Also, you may well have to tick boxes or click on pop-up boxes to confirm you’re happy to share your information. All of those extra steps are now in place so that organisations can meet their duties under the new legislation.

Once the data controller has explained why your data will be used and you’ve told them your preferences on what purposes it can be used for, they must adhere to them. Additionally, any personal data that is going to be stored must be kept as secure as possible.

While the ICO can investigate a company that has broken the law, and issues financial penalties in appropriate circumstances, they can’t award compensation if you’re harmed by a personal data breach. That will only happen if you bring your own legal action against the defendant.

We should tell you that data breach claims need to be made within the allowed time limits. Usually, a 6-year limitation applies but it’s worth checking your case as claims relating to human rights breaches have just 1-year to be submitted. Also, claiming early can make it a) easier to find evidence to support your case and b) easier for you to remember the effects of the breach.

If you get to the end of this guide and you still have questions that need answering, or if you would like to begin a claim, please call us to have your case assessed free of charge.

What Is A Data Breach At The University Of Oxford?

It’s important to note that the GDPR covers both digital data and data that is printed or written on paper. While cybersecurity issues like malware, phishing emails, keylogging, viruses and ransomware are common causes, breaches can happen in other ways. For instance, if a personnel office keeps staff records on paper, they should be kept in locked filing cabinets to prevent them from being accessed by unauthorised parties.

Within the GDPR, a personal data breach is listed as an event that happens following a security issue that allows information to be altered, destroyed, lost, accessed or disclosed in ways not approved by the data subject.

If a data controller suspects they have been the victim of a data breach, they need to start an investigation. Should any data subject be at risk following a breach, they must be informed about what has happened, when the event took place and the type of information that was exposed. The ICO must also be informed of the breach as well.

If you’d like to know if your case has merit, please call a member of our team today.

University GDPR Policy

Although some legal documents are difficult to read and wordy, the GDPR is not. It is 88-pages in length, but the plain English used makes it easy to understand who is responsible for protecting your data. As an example, the documentation explains that those registered as data controllers need to be able to show that they abide by the following principles regarding data processing.

They need to:

  • Tell data subjects about why their personal information is being requested.
  • Use legal methods of processing data which are obvious and fair.
  • Collect only the data that is required to fulfil the processing requirement and nothing extra.
  • Collect data using secure and confidential methods.
  • Never keep personal information for any longer than it is needed. There is no actual time limit specified in law though.
  • Keep personal information that has been stored up to date. This might include allowing the data subject to update the information themselves.

Personal information that the GDPR covers include anything that could be used to identify an individual. As an example, information like names, mobile numbers, addresses (home or email), enrolment numbers or staff ID numbers would all be protected by the GDPR. Furthermore, data that could help identify somebody indirectly, such as details of gender, disability, sexual orientation or age, are also covered.

How Have Universities Been Impacted By Breaches In Data Protection?

There have been a number of data breaches affecting universities in recent years. One case, that we’ll review in this section, led to an ICO investigation and a subsequent penalty of £120,000.

The University of Greenwich was fined following a serious breach relating to a website created to support a training event. Although the site was created back in 2004, before GDPR rules were enforceable, it wasn’t until later on that the breach took place.

After the training conference had ended, nothing was done to secure or remove the website. The problem was that it had 20,000 records uploaded to it which contained personal information about some staff and students. More sensitive data was also uploaded in around 3,500 cases.

In 2016, the website was exploited by unknown attackers on multiple occasions which allowed them to access different parts of the webserver. The ICO decided to fine the university even though they were not aware of the website’s existence. The ICO stated that there were insufficient measures in place to prevent such a breach from occurring.

How Many Universities Have Had A Data Breach?

Even with all of the information we have supplied already, you might still be wondering how often university data breaches occur. Well, a study that we’re going to cover in this section has revealed some surprisingly high figures.

The report (based on the answers provided by 86 universities) states that:

  • In the last year, over half of the universities had told the ICO about data breaches in their establishments (54%).
  • More than a quarter said they’d never had an external penetration test performed on their IT systems (27%).
  • 49% of students are not offered any proactive data awareness training.
  • In the past 12-months, nearly half of employees had not received any data security training (46%).
  • Annual staff training budgets for data safety training was just £7,529 on average.

Further details:

Criminal Breaches In Cybersecurity

As you’ll see in the press, many data breaches are caused by criminal activity. While criminals will always try new techniques to get their hands on the information they want, there are some standard IT practices that could help prevent further breaches in the future. They include:

  • Using encryption techniques to prevent data loss from devices that are lost or stolen.
  • Keeping data protection policies up to date.
  • Hiring an IT security consultant to perform penetration tests on the university’s infrastructure. This can identify weaknesses so they can be fixed before criminals exploit them.
  • Providing suitable training for students and staff on data safety techniques.
  • Having a policy that means only devices with the latest security updates are able to access the university’s IT systems.

You will often hear that university budgets are tight which makes implementing extra security measures tricky. However, in our opinion, these measures are essential and, besides, they could help the university avoid the cost of ICO fines for data breaches in the future.

What A Data Protection Breach Settlement Could Compensate You For?

Now we are going to explain what compensation could be claimed following data breaches. Unfortunately, you can’t just tell the defendant’s lawyer how much compensation you’d like to be paid. You need to demonstrate why you should be compensated and substantiate your claim with evidence. On top of that, future harm needs to be considered when claiming as you can’t request further compensation after a case is settled.

In a normal data breach claim, you’d start with material damages first. This is compensation that is sought for any money you have lost following the breach. Firstly, you’ll calculate the amount of money already lost. In some cases, you might then need to look at additional future losses. For example, if your personal data has been circulated on the web by criminals, it’s possible they’ll continue to be used in identity theft until you manage to update your credit record with a fraud report.

Claims for psychiatric harm caused by data breaches is known as non-material damages. The types of injuries can range from anxiety and depression to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You’ll usually calculate a figure for injuries that have already been medically diagnosed first. Then you could move on to any long-term suffering identified by an independent medical specialist. As an example, those suffering from long-term psychiatric injuries might find it difficult to trust people they are in relationships with, return to work, or cope with life in general, so those factors could also be considered.

If you would like to claim with Legal Expert on your side, why not contact our team today? If your case is taken on, one of our data breach solicitors will review all aspects of your case before it is submitted to try and ensure you don’t miss out on the compensation you might be entitled to.

Oxford University Data Breach Compensation Calculator

While we can’t tell you exactly how much compensation you could be awarded for data breach claims against the University of Oxford until your case has been assessed, we can provide some example figures in this section.

When hearing the case of Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc [2015], the Court of Appeal made two very important decisions. They said:

  1. Compensation can be claimed for psychiatric injuries caused by data breaches whether you have suffered financially or not.
  2. If compensation is awarded for such injuries, the level of payment should be the same as in personal injury law.

In our compensation table below, you will find figures for some relevant injuries as detailed in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). Lawyers, insurers and courts use the JCG to help them calculate settlement amounts.

InjurySeverity Settlement RangeAdditional Comments
General Psychiatric InjurySevere£51,460 to £108,620A very poor medical prognosis will be offered because a) treatment is highly unlikely to help and b) there will be very serious problems relating to work, relationships and the ability to cope with life.
General Psychiatric InjuryModerately Severe£17,900 to £51,460Although symptoms will be very similar to above, the claimant will receive a more optimistic prognosis in this category.
General Psychiatric InjuryLess SevereUp to £5,500Minor symptoms that resolve within a short space of time.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)Severe£56,180 to £94,570The symptoms of PTSD in this category will be permanent. They can include nightmares, flashbacks and suicidal ideation amongst others. Due to the seriousness, a return to work or pre-trauma functioning levels is highly unlikely.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)Moderately Severe£21,730 to £56,180With medical support, the claimant will have some chance of recovery. However, in the initial period following the trauma, the effects will be very similar to those listed above.

One of the main factors used to determine settlement levels is the severity of your injuries. To help prove this, you will need to be medically assessed by a local specialist during your claim. When you attend the appointment, your medical records will be considered, and the specialist will ask you a series of questions.

After you have finished, the medical expert will write down their findings and send their report to your solicitor. As this report is crucial, all data breach claimants must attend a medical assessment as part of their case.

What To Do Next?

As we’ve explained why data breach claims against the University of Oxford might be possible, you may now be wondering how to choose a solicitor to help you. You could ask a colleague, friend or member of your family to recommend somebody or you could just choose the nearest law firm to you. Another method is to read solicitor reviews online. However, we have a solution that could make the process a lot easier – one easy call to Legal Expert.

Our data breach claims team is available 24-7 so you can call to ask as many questions as you need to. We provide a free assessment of your claim and, if it is strong enough, we could appoint a data breach lawyer to represent you.

Not only will your solicitor handle communication with the defendant, but they’ll also provide you with regular updates. What’s more, if you’re unsure about any legal terms or you have any questions during the case, your solicitor will be available to explain things to you. Ultimately, they will do all they can to try and make sure you are compensated fully.

For free legal advice about starting a university data breach claim, please call the number at the top of the page.

No Win No Fee Claims For Data Breaches At The University Of Oxford

There are many reasons why you might put off starting a university data breach. For many people, it’s the cost of hiring a data breach solicitor that worries them. So that you can get access to justice with reduced financial risk, our team of specialists operate on a No Win No Fee basis for all claims they take on which makes the process a lot less stressful.

At the beginning of your case, a solicitor will go through everything with you to check if the case is strong enough. If they agree to represent you, they will prepare a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) for you. This is another name for a No Win No Fee agreement. The CFA shows how the case will proceed and also explains that:

  • You will not be asked to make any payments upfront.
  • There won’t be any solicitor’s fees, nor hidden charges, while your case continues.
  • If your claim does not result in compensation, you won’t need to pay any of your solicitor’s fees.

When a claim has a positive outcome, your solicitor will deduct a small percentage of any compensation awarded. This is called a success fee and it is used to cover the work carried out by your solicitor. So that you’re aware of how much you’ll pay, the success fee is detailed in the CFA. Also, by law, such fees are capped to avoid overcharging.

Why not check whether you can use our No Win No Fee service by contacting one of our advisors today?

How To Contact Our Team

We hope that the details provided in this article on data breach claims against the University of Oxford have proved helpful. We are here to support you if you would like to discuss starting a claim. To get the ball rolling, you can:

The last thing we want to do is offer false hope or waste your time. Therefore, during your free consultation, our advisors will be honest about the chances of winning your case. They will offer free legal advice and could connect you with a specialist data breach lawyer if your claim appears viable. Should your claim be accepted, your solicitor will work for you on a No Win No Fee basis.


That concludes our article on making data breach claims against the University of Oxford. We have attempted to supply all the information you’ll need, and so, in this section, we have listed some resources which you might need to access during your claim.

Oxford University Data Privacy – Shows how the University of Oxford meets its GDPR obligations.

Recent ICO Enforcement – A list of the most recent action taken against companies who have breached data protection rules.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Information on PTSD from the UK mental health charity, Mind.

Also, so that you can see some other compensation claims we could help with, we’ve provided some more of our guides here too:

Workplace Injury Claims – Explains how we could help you claim for injuries caused by employer negligence.

GP Data Breach Claims – If you’ve suffered because of a GP’s negligence during a video consultation, this guide could help you begin a claim.

Slip, Trip, And Fall Claims – Here we look at claiming for injuries sustained during a fall caused by somebody else.

Other Useful Compensation Guides

Please contact one of our advisors if you require any extra information. Thank you for reading our guide to data breach claims against the University of Oxford.

Guide by Hambridge

Edited by Billing

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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.