Data Breach Claims

Any person who has suffered material or non-material damage as a result of a breach of their data shall have the right to receive compensation from the controller or processor for the damage suffered.

Under data protection law, you are entitled to take your case to court to:

  • Enforce your rights under data protection law if you believe they have been breached.
  • Claim compensation for any damage caused by any organisation if they have broken data protection law, including any distress you may have suffered, or
  • a combination of the two.

Do I have to go to court to get compensation for a breach of data protection law?

The GDPR gives you a right to claim compensation from an organisation if you have suffered damage as a result of it breaking data protection law. This includes both “material damage” (e.g. you have lost money) or “non-material damage” (e.g. you have suffered distress).

You do not have to make a court claim to obtain compensation – the organisation may simply agree to pay it to you. However, if it does not agree to pay, your next step would be to make a claim in court. The court would decide your case. If it agreed with you, it would decide whether or not the organisation would have to pay you compensation.

What do I need to do before I take a claim to court?

The court will want to know what steps you have taken to try to settle the claim. This means you must write or speak to the organisation to see if you can reach an agreement.

If you fail to reach an agreement, you should write to the organisation before you start court proceedings, telling them you intend to go to court. You should take into account any court rules about pre-action conduct – for example in England and Wales, claimants must follow the pre-action protocols before starting any legal proceedings.

How do I take my case to court if I cannot reach an agreement?

If you cannot reach an agreement with the media organisation, you can apply to a court with an action to enforce your rights under data protection law. If you wish to claim compensation, you can apply to do this on its own or combine it with an action to enforce your rights.

How much compensation will the court award me if my claim is successful?

This will be up to the judge hearing the case, who will take into account all the circumstances. This will include how serious the infringement was and its impact on you, particularly when assessing the distress you suffered.

If the organisation refuses or is unable to pay, you should ask the court how you can enforce the judgment.

You should also bear in mind that the court can award costs to you or against you in certain circumstances. For example, if you fail to demonstrate you have suffered damage or distress, the court will not award you compensation and could order you to pay the other party’s costs.

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