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Claiming Compensation Under Data Protection Act

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 2 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Data Protection Act Compensation

You can claim compensation under the Data Protection Act if an organisation's breach of the Act's provisions meant that you underwent "damage, or damage and distress." This is extreme, but if you have proof that it happened, it's a course worth considering. The burden of proof will lie with you of course, as you're bringing the action and though it should be relatively easy to find evidence of damage, distress can be a lot tougher to prove. It's always best to exhaust the other avenues first if you can.

Restrictions

Before you make a claim however, you have to distinguish between damage and distress - which can be a very tricky point and distress can be a very nebulous thing. Under the law, if all you suffered was distress because of the processing, then you can only make a claim if the data has been used for "special purposes" and only three categories are allowed - artistic, literary or journalistic.

How to Claim Compensation

If the organisation offers you compensation, then everything can be settled easily. If you can't reach an agreement however, you'll need to take them to court (although most organisations would prefer to pay a small amount than face the glare of bad publicity). You can either specify the amount of compensation you want the court to award you (known as "liquidated damages"), or leave the decision up to the judge ("unliquidated damages"). Your claim should also contain an application that demands the organisation remedy the breach in the Act that caused the damage in the first place.

Generally, if your claim is for less than £5000, the court will put the case under the small claims procedure, which means you won't need to use a solicitor; you can handle the case yourself.

The Amount of Compensation

The amount of compensation is up to the judge; the Act offers no guidelines for compensation levels. This means he has to take a number of things into account, including the extent of the breach and its effect on you.

Even in the case of liquidated, or specified damages, where the sum you've stated is simply the same as the amount you've lost because of the organisation's actions, the judge might disallow part of your claim. He can also award you a lesser amount than you asked for, or possibly even nothing at all.

Getting Your Money

In most instances however, if an organisation is found to have done wrong and you've proved damage and distress, you'll receive at least some money in compensation and the organisation will pay relatively promptly.

If they don't however, or they refuse or can't pay, that leaves them in breach of the court. This means that you have to return to court to learn how you can enforce the judgement. This might even involve new proceedings, which can end up being more time-consuming than the amount is worth.

As an extreme measure, consider starting bankruptcy proceedings against the organisation if they refuse to pay. This course of action often achieves very quick results, but shouldn't be taken hastily.

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DaveE - Your Question:
In writing to me to advise I have underpaid tax for the past 3 years due to HICBC, HMRC have sent details of my salary for 3 tax years to an accountant I last used 15 years ago when I owned a company. In fact they have done it twice - I wrote back to them to dispute some amounts and asked them not to include the Accountancy firm in any response. They sent me the recalculations and, of course, included the accountant again. I have raised a complaint on their website but it's been 2 weeks now and no response. Any advice on what I should do next please?

Our Response:
You need to complete the two tier complaints process. If you still don't hear anything try the Adjudicator's office
ConsumerRightsExpert - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:25 AM
In writing to me to advise I have underpaid tax for the past 3 years due to HICBC, HMRC have sent details of my salary for 3 tax years to an accountant I last used 15 years ago when I owned a company. In fact they have done it twice - I wrote back to them to dispute some amounts and asked them not to include the Accountancy firm in any response. They sent me the recalculations and, of course, included the accountant again. I have raised a complaint on their website but it's been 2 weeks now and no response. Any advice on what I should do next please?
DaveE - 2-Nov-17 @ 3:54 PM
Bigbear17- Your Question:
My local authority has sent information to my children's biological father who has not seen them for 9 years or been involved. They sent him information about my other children who are not his myself and my mental health and about my current partner without my permission. Can I peruse this ?

Our Response:
We don't really have enough information about your case to help with this we're sorry.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 31-Oct-17 @ 3:39 PM
My local authority has sent information to my children's biological father who has not seen them for 9 years or been involved.They sent him information about my other children who are not his myself and my mental health and about my current partner without my permission.Can i peruse this ?
Bigbear17 - 29-Oct-17 @ 8:02 PM
Mary Miles - Your Question:
I work for the NHS, I was involved in a sexual assault and the matter was investigated by my employers. During the investigation my Full name and address was sent to the person in question, also the investigating officer had left documentation involving the investigation include my full name and address in an air lock which all personal to the building had access to. I had to move address and had to change the area of which I work with in the NHS Trust and all my employers done was write a letter of apology and make the investigator retake there information governance training. Would I have a case?

Our Response:
You would have to seek professional legal help for advice on a specific case like this.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 13-Oct-17 @ 11:58 AM
I work for the NHS, I was involved in a sexual assault and the matter was investigated by my employers. During the investigation my Full name and address was sent to the person in question, also the investigating officer had left documentation involving the investigation include my full name and address in an air lock which all personal to the building had access to. I had to move address and had to change the area of which i work with in the NHS Trust and all my employers done was write a letter of apology and make the investigator retake there information governance training. Would I have a case?
Mary Miles - 12-Oct-17 @ 7:04 AM
Zenbus - Your Question:
I have been a patient at the Royal Free Hospital since 1998 for a serious liver condition. In this time I have been on several drug trials, some of which have been quite debilitating and as a consequence I have been suffering with chemical depression. As a very private person I was shocked and upset to find that the hospital I put my faith and trust in have given away my personal details and medical records to Deepmind a Google owned tech company. I am deeply distressed by this breach of my personal information. Can anyone advise me on what action I may take and what sort of compensation I should claim.

Our Response:
Are you identifiable from the data? Or has the company simply passed on its finding from the trials without naming you etc?
ConsumerRightsExpert - 29-Sep-17 @ 2:16 PM
I have been a patient at the Royal Free Hospital since 1998 for a serious liver condition. In this time I have been on several drug trials, some of which have been quite debilitating and as a consequence I have been suffering with chemical depression. As a very private person I was shocked and upset to find that the hospital I put my faith and trust in have given away my personal details and medical records to Deepmind a Google owned tech company. I am deeply distressed by this breach of my personal information. Can anyone advise me on what action I may take and what sort of compensation I should claim.
Zenbus - 27-Sep-17 @ 9:39 PM
Pickard22 - Your Question:
My bank has sent certified copies of my passport and child benefit letter to another customer. They have asked the customer to send the documents back along with a declaration to say they will not make any copies. My concern is that this issue can never be fully resolved. The other customer may have already made copies of my documents therefore signing the declaration doesn't really do much in terms of reassuring me. Where do I stand in terms of compensation?

Our Response:
You seek professional legal advice to establish levels of compensation that might be relevant.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 18-Aug-17 @ 11:37 AM
My bank has sent certified copies of my passport and child benefit letter to another customer. They have asked the customer to send the documents back along with a declaration to say they will not make any copies. My concern is that this issue can never be fully resolved. The other customer may have already made copies of my documents therefore signing the declaration doesn't really do much in terms of reassuring me. Where do I stand in terms of compensation?
Pickard22 - 16-Aug-17 @ 6:59 PM
o0oabdo0o - Your Question:
The work for a large NHS trust and recently discovered an occupational health report re myself placed in an unsecure format on a shared drive within the organisations intranet.This included personal information about my medical conditions, details of a collective grievence I was involved in which was taken out against a senior manager and details of an ongoing period of absence from work as a result of stress.The information was open to being viewed by all staff who had access to this shared drive. This included everyone I work with, peers, managers and subordinate staff, all staff within the HR department and potentially departments.The total number of staff with access is in excess of one hundred and could extend to several hundred with the potential for the information to be forwarded to the any if the 7000+ staff within the organisation.This has caused upset, anxiety and distress but more importantly it has, in my opinion, made my position within the organisation untenable.What options do you consider would be available to me?

Our Response:
A private legal action to compensate you for your estimated loss and potential loss? Ask a union rep or ACAS first of all, but it may be that you need to seek advice from a solicitor.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 9-Aug-17 @ 2:25 PM
The work for a large NHS trust and recently discovered an occupational health report re myself placed in an unsecure format on a shared drive within the organisations intranet. This included personal information about my medical conditions, details of a collective grievence I was involved in which was taken out against a senior manager and details of an ongoing period of absence from work as a result of stress. The information was open to being viewed by all staff who had access to this shared drive. This included everyone I work with, peers, managers and subordinate staff, all staff within the HR department and potentially departments. The total number of staff with access is in excess of one hundred and could extend to several hundred with the potential for the information to be forwarded to the any if the 7000+ staff within the organisation. This has caused upset, anxiety and distress but more importantly it has, in my opinion, made my position within the organisation untenable. What options do you consider would be available to me?
o0oabdo0o - 8-Aug-17 @ 1:37 PM
chris - Your Question:
Hi I recieved a letter from a hire purchase company admitting my bank details have been sent to a different customer,the timing of this error has put me in a position of extreme stress as me and my kids are struggling to cope with their mothers death and im trying to keep my job and home,what advice could anyone give on what to do

Our Response:
The obvious thing to do is to inform your bank and get them to make sure your details are secure (this may mean changing your account etc but the bank should be able to help you). Write a letter to the HP company (get help from Citizens' Advice or a solicitor) explaining yoursituation and how this has compounded it. Ask for compensation if you think that will help.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 8-Aug-17 @ 11:33 AM
angie - Your Question:
I went to a store and they asked for my postcode. When I enquired what it would be used for I was informed it would be used to determine the geographic area customers came from. I received an unsolicited catalogue from the firm today. They got my information through false pretences and used it in a way I would not have allowed if I'd known. I spoke to the data controller and he has admitted that a breach of the dpa has occurred. Can I claim for irritation and invasion of privacy in this instance?

Our Response:
You will need to consult a solicitor to find out whether a legal case for compensation exists. The information commissioner's role is simply to make sure companies uphold the law and take action against companies who breach it.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 7-Aug-17 @ 10:04 AM
hi i recieved a letter from a hire purchase company admitting my bank details have been sent to a different customer,the timing of this error has put me in a position of extreme stress as me and my kids are struggling to cope with their mothers death and im trying to keep my job and home,what advice could anyone give on what to do
chris - 5-Aug-17 @ 4:55 PM
Ali - Your Question:
HiMinutes from the outcome hearing of a dignity at work investigation were lost by the minute taker. Everything that was said was minuted and was highly confidential, personal and sensitive information. I did not get the opportunity to review the minutes before they were lost which was in hand written form. Is it worth making a claim and are there any time constraints. Thank you

Our Response:
You would have to seek professional legal advice over whether to pursue a claim...this would depend on demonstrable losses incurred etc.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:08 PM
I went to a store and they asked for my postcode. When I enquired what it would be used for I was informed it would be used to determine the geographic area customers came from. I received an unsolicited catalogue from the firm today. They got my information through false pretences and used it in a way I would not have allowed if I'd known. I spoke to the data controller and he has admitted that a breach of the dpa has occurred. Can I claim for irritation and invasion of privacy in this instance?
angie - 3-Aug-17 @ 12:23 AM
R.I.A.C ftf - Your Question:
I used to work for a company that issued fixed penalty notices for littering/dog fouling on behalf of our city council. A journalist requested ticket numbers issued from the company under the Foi act but the consonant mistakenly gave him a list of all employee names that issued the tickets. The company has sent a letter apologising for the mistake to me and has assured me that the journo won't publish my name but I am more concerned about the fact that the information was released in the first place. There are people/groups that have been set up verbally attacking personnel that do this job and I am more worried that these guys get the details. Can I claim compensation for the worries I am enduring?

Our Response:
You should ask a legal professional about compensation cases - they are better placed to establish/quantify your losses etc.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:45 PM
Hi Minutes from the outcome hearing of a dignity at work investigation were lost by the minute taker. Everything that was said was minuted and was highly confidential, personal and sensitive information. I did not get the opportunity to review the minutes before they were lost which was in hand written form. Is it worth making a claim and are there any time constraints. Thank you
Ali - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:35 PM
Veeeeeee - Your Question:
Hi, I have left my old job and requested my P45 which the HR manager asked me to confirm my home address. I confirmed and they sent my P45 to another employers address with my name on it. Can I claim for compensation as this was a breach of the Data Protection law? Thanks

Our Response:
You would need to seek advice from a legal professional to find out whether, or how much, you can claim compensation for.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 1-Aug-17 @ 2:42 PM
I used to work for a company that issued fixed penalty notices for littering/dog fouling on behalf of our city council. A journalist requested ticket numbers issued from the company under the Foi act but the consonant mistakenly gave him a list of all employee names that issued the tickets. The company has sent a letter apologising for the mistake to me and has assured me that the journo won't publish my name but I am more concerned about the fact that the information was released in the first place. There are people/groups that have been set up verbally attacking personnel that do this job and I am more worried that these guys get the details. Can I claim compensation for the worries I am enduring?
R.I.A.C ftf - 31-Jul-17 @ 10:02 AM
Hi I use work at Morrisons and had i data protection stolen by a senior manager from head office who shared 100,000 Morrisons employee details of our bank account details national insurance number address and date of birth etc this was back in 2014, this year I have 2 separate incidents where someone in Liverpool try buy something online at Argos also just recently someone has took a mobile phone contract out in my name
Tim - 29-Jul-17 @ 4:27 PM
Hi, I have left my old job and requested my P45 which the HR manager asked me to confirm my home address. I confirmed and they sent my P45 to another employers address with my name on it. Can I claim for compensation as this was a breach of the Data Protection law? Thanks
Veeeeeee - 29-Jul-17 @ 1:05 PM
I have changed my name legally and a first aid company gave my new employer my original name as this wasn't changed on their system. I hadn't notified my employer of my change of name. Can I get compensation from the first aid company?
Jo - 21-Jul-17 @ 10:21 PM
I was waiting for the Housing Ombudsman to give me a decision,and send me a report. After a few days had passed, I contacted them to find out wheremy report was andI was told that It had been posted two weeks previously, but as I did not receive it they would email a copy to me. When I read my copy I noticed that they had got my address wrong and sent it to another neighbour who had been involved in this matter. The ombudsman isnow investigating this data breach, but who can I report The Housing ombudsman to, is it ICO. ?
smudge - 20-Jul-17 @ 4:25 PM
Hi, Iv had an email from Dwp/parliament saying that my email I sent in December is one of the ones that have been breached.Id already put a complaint in about my treatment by the Dwp and assessor as the stress they caused me made me agoraphobic.Id already had a nervous breakdown and lost my job.So this was a complaint to them then and Iv got one in now, I won my appeal against the Dwp decision, the wait caused me more unnecessary stress.So when parliaments data was breached I'm assuming the issue that was on the news? They sent an email apologising and saying they don't know if it will be used or not.Not exactly that wording.They had caused me enough stress, now someone? Has my personal information as it's in the complaint.Im not happy with them already, let alone this.What are my options? They have admitted it in the email and don't even know who has it.
Ket - 11-Jul-17 @ 6:45 PM
Nicole - Your Question:
Question - my doctors gp have sent a letter to my sister in law containing my medical records from hospital that they should of sent to me. I can't understand how they could do this when on the letter it states my name address and dob but they still manage to sent it to my sister in law. Can I do anything about this?

Our Response:
You should write a letter of complaint. If you want to take it further - report it to the information commissioner and seek legal advice about compensation levels.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 7-Jul-17 @ 11:21 AM
Question - my doctors gphave sent a letter to my sister in law containing my medical records from hospital that they should of sent to me. I can't understand how they could do this when on the letter it states my name address and dob but they still manage to sent it to my sister in law. Can I do anything about this?
Nicole - 6-Jul-17 @ 11:43 AM
Mo - Your Question:
Hello all. Now guess what.My current insurance company cancelled my insurance, we recieved a card from the post man to notify us (my girlffriend and me ) he been here to hand a letter which requires a signature. We weren't expecting a parcel for sure firstly and secondly they sent us a letter which needed a sign. Fine. They never called us to follow up with the no claims discount which I had requested from my previous insurance company. Now the part that makes me frustrated, while I'm trying my best for my current insurance policy not to be cancelled the manager does not sympathise and says I will need to call your insurance company to check if this is correct ! He also says once we have confirmation that this no claims certificate is good he will then have to put me on a new policy. Which means I'm loosing out on my no claims discount and having to take out another insurance policy which I can't afford to as these insurance prices are sky high. So he makes a call to my last insurance company and calls me back saying they wouldn't confirm this with me as I'm in debt with them. Now when I rang up the insurance company that same day they never told me anything about a debt. Didn't send me no letters seeking payment of any sort. Is this a breach ? Thanks in advance

Our Response:
We can't really comment on this as we don't have the full details of your previous insurance policy etc.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 30-Jun-17 @ 2:01 PM
Hello all. Now guess what. My current insurance company cancelled my insurance, we recieved a card from the post man to notify us (my girlffriend and me ) he been here to hand a letter which requires a signature. We weren't expecting a parcel for sure firstly and secondly they sent us a letter which needed a sign. Fine. They never called us to follow up with the no claims discount which I had requested from my previous insurance company. Now the part that makes me frustrated, while I'm trying my best for my current insurance policy not to be cancelled the manager does not sympathise and says I will need to call your insurance company to check if this is correct ! He also says once we have confirmation that this no claims certificate is good he will then have to put me on a new policy. Which means I'm loosing out on my no claims discount and having to take out another insurance policy which i can't afford to as these insurance prices are sky high. So he makes a call to my last insurance company and calls me back saying they wouldn't confirm this with me as I'm in debt with them. Now when I rang up the insurance company that same day they never told me anything about a debt. Didn't send me no letters seeking payment of any sort.Is this a breach ? Thanks in advance
Mo - 29-Jun-17 @ 10:48 PM
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