By Danielle Nicholson. Last Updated 18th October 2023. In this guide, we will explain what a personal data breach is and clarify when you can claim data breach compensation. If an organisation has breaches your data, it could affect you in various ways. For example, you may experience stress or develop a more severe psychological injury such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You could also suffer financially, such as if your bank details are stolen and someone takes loans out in your names.
This guide will explore how data protection law sets out a data controller and processors responsibilities. A data controller sets the purpose for processing your personal data and can often process it themselves. A data processor will act on behalf of the controller.
If they fail to adhere to data protection law causing your personal data to become compromised leading to you suffering financial loss or mental harm, you may be able to claim. We will explore this further in our guide.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact our team of advisors. To get in touch, you can:
Select A Section
- Data Breach Compensation Examples
- What Is A Personal Data Breach And Who Can Make A Claim?
- Data Breach Compensation – Examples Of When You Could Claim
- Data Breach Compensation – Do I Need Evidence To Claim?
- Data Breach Claim – Time Limits
- Making A Data Breach Claim With A No Win No Fee Solicitor
If you are interested in making a claim, you might be curious about using tools such as a data breach compensation calculator to estimate how much compensation you could receive. While these tools can be helpful, many calculators do not take into account all the financial losses you have incurred. It’s important to keep this in mind when looking for an estimate of what you could receive in data breach compensation.
If your data breach claim is successful, your settlement could include compensation for two types of damage. The first is non-material damage, which refers to the damage done to your mental health as a result of the breach of personal data.
When valuing compensation for non-material damage, legal professionals can refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) for guidance. This document lists guideline compensation brackets for various types of mental harm.
In our table, we look at examples of mental health injuries and the corresponding guideline amounts from the 16th edition of the JCG. These figures are guideline amounts only.
Type of Harm Guideline Compensation Amounts Notes
Psychological Harm - Severe (a) £54,830 to £115,730 The person has received a poor prognosis and have experienced an impact in many areas of their life.
Psychological Harm - Moderately Severe (b) £19,070 to £54,830 The person will have a more optimistic prognosis despite significant issues.
Psychological Harm - Moderate (c) £5,860 to £19,070 The person will have a good prognosis and have made a significant improvement.
Psychological Harm - Less Severe (d) £1,540 to £5,860 The award given will depend on the extent to which daily activities and sleep have been affected.
PTSD - Severe (a) £59,860 to £100,670 The person will experience a permanent impact on all parts of their life.
PTSD - Moderately Severe (b) £23,150 to £59,860 The person will have a better prognosis due to professional help.
PTSD - Moderate (c) £8,180 to £23,150 The person will have largely recovered with only some symptoms that aren't majorly disabling continuing.
PTSD - Less Severe (d) £3,950 to £8,180 The person will make a mostly full recovery within a couple of years.
Other Data Breach Compensation Examples
You may also be able to claim data breach compensation for any material damage you suffered. This refers to the financial losses caused by the breach.
For example, if criminals gain access to your bank account because of a compromise in your personal data, they could steal your money or even take out loans in your name. Similarly, if you need to take time off work to recover from psychological injuries caused by the breach, then you may be able to claim back any lost earnings.
To claim for your material damage, you will need to submit proof, such as credit reports or bank statements.
Contact one of the advisors from our team for a free evaluation of your claim. They can answer any questions you might have and can help identify if your claim is valid.
A breach of your personal data involves a security incident that has resulted in the confidentiality, integrity or availability of your personal data being affected.
Businesses and organisations will often collect personal data for operational and commercial purposes. Organisations may collect data from customers, employees and other stakeholders. The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) protect personal data of those who reside in the UK. It sets out a data controller and processors responsibilities such as taking security precautions to minimise the risk of data breaches happening.
You can sometimes claim data breach compensation if an organisation has breached your personal data. However, you will need to prove the following:
- An organisation breached your personal data because it failed to comply with data protection legislation.
- You experienced emotional distress or mental health injuries because of the data breach or financial losses.
Data Controllers And Data Processors
A data controller decides how your data is used, and why they need to use it. It’s their responsibility to establish a lawful basis, and ensure that their reasons for collecting this data are lawful. Then, a data processor follows the instructions of the controller and they process the data on their behalf. It’s the data processor’s responsibility to make sure they comply with data protection laws when they process this data.
Wrongful conduct occurs when the data controller or data processor fails to comply with data protection legislation and does not fulfil their responsibilities.
Contact our team to find out if you could have a valid data breach claim. Our advisors can evaluate your claim for free and offer more information on the claims process, using tools like a data breach compensation calculator, and working with a solicitor.
There are different scenarios where you could claim data breach compensation. For example, a cyber-attack could happen if an organisation fails to update their cyber security. Subsequently, the organisation becomes vulnerable to ransomware attacks or phishing scams.
However, you might also claim UK GDPR breach compensation as a result of a human error. This occurs following an unintentional mistake that causes a breach of your personal data. Examples include:
- Your employer might cause an accidental data breach if they store unencrypted personal data on a memory stick and lose it, meaning that anyone who finds the device can access your information.
- An organisation may send a letter containing your personal data to the wrong postal address, despite having your correct address on file.
- A hospital might send a mass email but the BCC field was not filled out, meaning the other email addresses of the recipients are not anonymised.
Please don’t fret if a data breach that affected you isn’t listed above. Our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors could still help you claim a data breach compensation amount. Get in touch for more information.
Can A Company Be Fined In The UK For A Data Breach?
An organisation called the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regulates data protection in the UK. As part of their duties, the ICO has the power to issue fines to companies that fail to comply with data protection laws.
There are two tiers of penalty the ICO can hand out. There is the higher maximum which can reach £17.5 million; this can apply if there’s a failure to comply with the data protection principles or the rights of a data subject. There is also the standard maximum, which can reach £8.7 million and applies where other provisions are infringed, for example, administrative requirements.
Below, we’ve listed the five largest fines the ICO have handed out for data breaches as of May 2023:
- £20 million fine for British Airways
- £18.4 million fine for Marriott Hotels
- £12.7 million fine for TikTok
- £7.5 million fine for Clearview AI
- £4.4 million fine for Interserve
If you’ve suffered due to a breach of data protection, compensation could be owed to you. However, in order to claim compensation for a breach of data protection, you need to be able to provide evidence. The more you have, the better.
Here are some examples of how you could support your claim:
- Emails/letters – For example, the correspondence from the data controller notifying you of a data breach.
- Bank statements – If your financial information is included in the data that’s been breached, then it could be that certain unauthorised costs and charges start to show up.
- Medical evidence – In a scenario where a data breach has affected your treatment (for instance, the loss of your records in a medical setting) then you’ll need proof that your health has been affected as a result of the breach.
There are other forms of evidence you could gather too. Some may even be specific to your circumstances. To find out more, including how a data breach compensation amount in the UK could be calculated, reach out to our advisors today.
If you want to make a data breach claim, you need to be aware of how long you have to do so. This can be different depending on the liable party.
If claiming against a publicly funded body, you would have 1 year to do so.
However, if claiming against privately owned companies, you would have 6 years to do so – this includes private healthcare providers.
Get in touch if you need more data breach compensation examples, want more information on claiming medical data compensation after a breach or want to know how much compensation for a data breach you could potentially be awarded.
If you are eligible to make a personal data breach claim, one of our solicitors may be able to help you. Our solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). With this arrangement in place, you will receive a solicitor’s help without paying any upfront or ongoing fees for their services. On top of this, if your claim fails, then your solicitor won’t take payment for their work on your case.
If your personal data breach compensation claim succeeds, then your solicitor will take a success fee. This is a small percentage that is deducted directly from your compensation award, though there is a legal cap in place to help make sure that you keep the majority share of your compensation.
Making a claim for compensation for a data breach with the help of a solicitor can come with many benefits. For example, when you work with one of our solicitors, they can use their years of experience to explain legal jargon and fully evaluate all areas of your claim. Another benefit of working with a solicitor is that they can help you collect useful and relevant evidence to support your case.
Our team of advisors are here to help. To find out if you could be eligible to make a personal data breach claim with the help of one of our solicitors, get in touch today:
Glossary Of Terms
Below, we have provided some key data breach terms.
- Data Subject: The person whose personal information is being processed.
- Data Controller: They decide on the purpose for processing personal data. They can also process this data themselves.
- Data Processor: They process data on behalf of the controller.
- Personal data: This is personal information that can be used to identify you.
Useful Guides For Data Breach Claims
Below, we have provided some additional resources that you may find useful.
- Family Data Breach Compensation
- How To Claim For A Witness GDPR Data Breach
- Lost Records Data Breach Compensation Claim
- How Do I Make A Claim For Stress Due To A Data Breach?
- TSB Bank Data Breach – When Could You Claim?
- Claiming For A Breach Of Data Protection In A Nursery
- My Mental Health Problems Were Made Worse By A Data Breach – Can I Claim?
- What Happens After An Accidental Data Breach By An Employer?
- Lost Records Data Breach Compensation Claims
- What Happens After An Accidental Data Breach By An Employer?
- I Suffered A Text Message Data Breach – Can I Claim?
- How To Claim If Your Files Were Lost In A Data Breach
- Can I Claim For A Breach Of Sickness Information At Work?
- Frequently Asked Questions On Data Breach Claims
- Barclays Bank Data Breach – Could I Claim Compensation?
- How To Claim For A Breach Of Criminal Offence Data
- Tandem Money Data Protection Breach – Can I Claim?
- Recruitment Agency UK GDPR Data Breach Claims
- Co-operative Bank Data Breach – Could I Claim?
- Citizens Advice Breach Of Data Protection – When Could You Claim?
- Virgin Money Data Breach Claims
- Monzo Bank Breach Of Data Protection Claims
- My Medical Records Were Lost By A Solicitor – Can I Claim?
- Victim Of Domestic Abuse Data Breach Claims
- Credit And Debit Card Data Breach Claims Explained
- What Is A Wrong Email Address Data Breach?
- The BCC Field Was Not Filled Out – Can I Claim?
- What Is A Wrong Postal Address Data Breach?
- Solicitors Sent The Wrong Patient Records – Can I Claim?
- Victim Support Data Breach – When Could You Claim Compensation?
- Santander Data Breach – When Could You Claim Compensation?
- A Solicitor Lost Client Files – Data Breach Compensation Claims Guide
- When Can You Claim For A Data Breach At Amazon?
- Sexual Abuse Data Breach Compensation Claims
- When Can You Claim For A Vodafone Data Breach?
- NHS: Mental health conditions
- GOV: Cyber security breaches survey 2021
- NCSC: Guidance on data breaches
If you have any other questions regarding how to seek data breach compensation, please get in touch on the number above.