A Guide To Claiming Compensation For A Data Breach By A Solicitor

By Danielle Graves. Last Updated 20th January 2023. Have you been the victim of a data breach by a solicitor that has caused you financial or emotional harm? This could be any incident where your personal data has been accessed, lost, stolen, altered, or disclosed without permission. If your solicitor has failed to implement proper cybersecurity practices or has given unauthorised individuals access to your personal data, you could be entitled to make a data breach compensation claim. And you could do so with assistance from a data breach lawyer from our specialist panel.

Solicitor data breach compensation claims guide

Solicitor data breach compensation claims guide

There are many different ways that data breaches could happen. Malware is one of the most common. This refers to any sort of malicious software that is used to harm your computer. It could hijack, encrypt, or steal computer functions.

Phishing is another common data breach tactic. Hackers could gain access to confidential data by deceiving recipients into clicking on a malicious link or downloading an infected attachment.

From hacking to the mismanagement of data privacy and even human error, there are numerous ways your solicitor could be to blame for a data breach.

How This Guide Could Help

Below, we explain more about the legal obligations that solicitors have when it comes to protecting your data. We also explain what compensation you may be eligible for if you make a claim for a data breach by a solicitor.

If you would like to speak to one of our friendly and experienced specialists about a data breach that you have been impacted by, we are here to help. You can reach us on 0161 696 9685. You can also chat with us now using our live chat service, bottom right, or write to us via our contact form.

Our team could provide you with a free eligibility check on your case. And if your claim has merit, we could connect you with a data breach lawyer from our panel who could assist with your case.

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A Guide On Claiming For A Data Breach By A Solicitor

By law, all organisations, including law firms, are required to protect the confidential data they hold about people. This could include the data of their clients and prospective clients. Failure to do this could result in those who have been harmed by a data breach making a claim for compensation.

In this guide, we explain how a data breach by a solicitor could happen. And, we offer guidance on how the claims process works. This includes providing an insight into third-party data sharing, how solicitor data breaches could happen, and how the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) could be useful to you if you want to report a solicitor’s data protection breach.

There are some time limits in place when it comes to these cases. These are as follows:

  • 6 years from the date you obtained knowledge of the breach.
  • Or 1 year if it involves a breach of human rights.

If you have the basis for a claim, you may be pleased to learn that we could connect you with a data breach lawyer from our specialist panel who works on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you would not be asked to pay legal fees upfront to begin your claim.

Remember, if you have any questions throughout this guide, get in touch with our team on the number at the top of this page.

What Is A Data Breach By A Solicitor?

Personal data could include your name, address, IP address as well as information relating to your bank details and medical information, for example. It is any data that could be used alone, or in combination with other data to identify you.

A data breach refers to any incident in which there has been unlawful access, disclosure, alteration, loss, or destruction of personal data. This includes personal information breaches that happen due to deliberate and accidental causes.

For example, your private information could be exposed because your solicitor accidentally sent an email to the wrong recipient. Alternatively, it could happen because your solicitor acted negligently, storing confidential data in an insecure manner. Or, in some cases, a solicitor data protection breach could happen because of malicious intent. Someone inside or outside of the organisation could access your data without authorisation. They could do so by hacking or launching another type of cyber attack, for example.

Irrespective of how your data has been compromised, if your solicitor has failed in their role to protect your personal data, and you’ve suffered financial or mental damage as a result, it could be possible for you to make a compensation claim for a data breach by a solicitor.

What Is Third-Party Data Sharing By A Solicitor?

The General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated to GDPR, is the toughest security and privacy law worldwide. Despite being drafted and passed by the EU, the obligations imposed are relevant to businesses and organisations anywhere in the world, provided they store and process the private data of EU citizens.

GDPR came into effect in 2018, and there are heavy fines in place for any business or organisation that violates the GDPR security and privacy standards. The UK’s application of GDPR is enshrined into law in the form of the Data Protection Act 2018.

What is third-party data sharing by a solicitor?

Data sharing refers to personal information being disclosed to a third party outside of the law firm. It could involve personal data being shared between different elements within the organisation. For example, if the solicitor’s firm has a different department for all types of law, there’s no reason why your data should be shared with one of the other departments.

It may also refer to third parties that are fully separate from the law firm in question. In some cases, the solicitor may need to share your data to provide you with a service. They could do so without your consent if they have a valid reason to do so. Reasons could include:

  • Vital interests
  • Public task
  • Legitimate interests
  • Legal Obligation
  • Contract

If, however, a solicitor has shared your personal data without your consent for reasons other than the above, this could represent a breach of GDPR. If you suffer mental or financial harm because of this, you could make a claim for such a data breach by a solicitor.

ICO Action Taken In Cases Of Data Breaches By Solicitors

In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was established to uphold information rights in the public interest. It works to ensure that data privacy for individuals is promoted. It encourages public bodies to be open and transparent about the personal data they collect.

Does The ICO Enforce GDPR?

The ICO does enforce GDPR in the UK. The organisation also enforces the following data protection legislation:

  • The re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations
  • INSPIRE Regulations
  • Environmental Information Regulations
  • Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • Data Protection Act

Data Protection Breach Fines

ICO fines could amount to thousands of pounds for a solicitor data breach. In 2017, the ICO fined a lawyer who stored his clients’ files on a home computer, with information belonging to 250 people being compromised.

Another incident saw Stoke City Council fined £120,000 because a solicitor working on behalf of the council sent out 11 emails to the wrong address by accident. These emails contained some sensitive and confidential data.

Calculating Compensation Amounts For A Data Breach By A Solicitor

Under GDPR, you could claim compensation for both non-material and material harm caused by a data breach. Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc [2015] set a legal precedent for psychological and psychiatric injury awards to be included in data breach cases. Previously, compensation for such harm could only be sought if financial damage was incurred too.

During this case, the Court also addressed how compensation should be handled when it comes to valuing mental harm. They concluded that personal injury awards should be referred to when valuing psychological and psychiatric harm in data breach claims.

Therefore, when it comes to claiming compensation because of a data breach by your solicitor, there are a number of different psychological injuries that you could claim, which we’ll consider below.

How Is Breach Of Data Compensation Calculated?

To come to an appropriate value for a psychological injury, lawyers and courts would need to assess how severe an injury is. They would also need to assess how long the effects could last.

As part of your claim for a data breach by a solicitor, you’d need to attend a medical assessment. An independent medic would examine you and detail their findings on your condition and outlook for recovery in a medical report.

This report could be used to prove your claim and also to value the injuries. To help them reach the right figure, they’ll refer to a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines.

We have illustrated guideline compensation amounts for psychological injuries from that publication in the below table. This could give you some idea of how much you could claim.

Injury typeCompensation Bracket (Approximate)Level of severity
General psychological injury£54,830 to £115,730Severe
General psychological injury£19,070 to £54,830Moderately severe
General psychological injury£5,860 to £19,070Moderate
General psychological injury£1,540 to £5,860Less severe
Post-traumatic stress conditions/PTSD£59,860 to £100,670Severe
Post-traumatic stress conditions/PTSD£23,150 to £59,860Moderately severe
Post-traumatic stress conditions/PTSD£8,180 to £23,150Moderate
Post-traumatic stress conditions/PTSD£3,950 to £8,180Less severe

For a more precise estimate, please get in touch with our team of friendly advisers. Once they know more about your case, they can hone in on an accurate valuation.

Types Of Compensation Awarded To Victims Of Data Breaches By A Solicitor

When it comes to claiming, there are a number of different ways in which you could be compensated for your data breach.

In accordance with GDPR, people have the right to make a claim for breach of data compensation from a business or organisation. They could claim if they have experienced damage as a consequence of a solicitors data protection breach. This includes compensation for both non-material and material damage. Therefore, you may be able to claim for the likes of financial losses and emotional distress.

Have you been affected psychologically?

Have you been feeling distressed as a consequence of the data breach you experienced? People could feel anxious and experience a lack of sleep as the victim of a data breach. They may worry that someone is going to misuse their personal information.

You could feel anxious, confused, and unsettled, just as if you’ve been burgled. This could have the knock-on effect of impacting you in the workplace and in your daily life. This is something that could be considered when data breach solicitors in the UK put your case forward.

The amount of breach of data compensation you are awarded would depend on how severe the data breach was and the impact it has had on you.

How The Information Commissioner Could Assist You

If you believe you may be the victim of a data breach, you could complain. The ICO advises that you raise a complaint directly with the organisation that breached your data first. If you do not receive an adequate response within around 3 months, or you do not get a response at all, you could then get in touch with the ICO to raise a complaint.

The ICO wouldn’t typically investigate concerns whereby there has been an undue delay in the issue being brought to their attention. Because of this, we recommend that you get in touch with the ICO to launch your complaint quickly. You should do so within three months since your last contact with the organisation responsible.

Do I Have To Report A Breach To Claim?

We must stress that filing a complaint with the ICO is not a legal requirement. If it has been three months since you made contact with the solicitor or law firm responsible for the breach, you may then seek legal advice about making a data breach claim with the help of an experienced data breach lawyer.

No Win No Fee Data Breach Lawyers

If you would like legal support for your claim, a data breach solicitor could provide their services under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). A CFA is a type of No Win No Fee arrangement.

Data protection breach solicitors operating under a CFA typically aren’t going to charge upfront for their services. Any ongoing costs will usually be covered by the CFA as well. A legally limited success fee will be taken directly from your award should your data protection solicitor help you recover compensation. However, should your claim fail, they typically won’t ask you for payment for their services.

Our panel of data breach lawyers typically offer No Win No Fee arrangements. Free legal advice is available from our advisors on the contact information below. They can answer any questions you may have about No Win No Fee arrangements and data breaches.

How To Get Help From A Data Breach Protection Lawyer

When looking for a specialist solicitor to work on your case, you could have a number of data breach solicitors to select from. Some people may feel that their only option is to go for a solicitor who is based in their local area. However, this does not have to be the case.

In the digital world that we live in, making a data breach claim is something that could be handled online. This means that you are able to choose the most appropriate data breach lawyer for your case rather than simply going for the one that is closest.

One thing we recommend doing is reading reviews to narrow down your search. Reviews could be helpful because you learn more about the experience that claimants had with the lawyers you are considering.

You could learn whether they were successful, as well as finding out what the solicitor was like to work with. Were they easy to get in touch with? Did they make the claimant feel comfortable?

These are the questions that you are only going to get answered by reading reviews. Because of this, we also recommend that you read reviews on independent review websites. That way, you could be sure that the comments are genuine.

Here at Legal Helpline, we could put you in touch with a data breach lawyer from our panel that could help you with your claim. As we have connections with some superb legal professionals, we could help make sure you get the right solicitor for your case.

Contact Our Specialist Team

We hope that you have found this guide helpful in explaining incidents involving a solicitor’s breach of the Data Protection Act and GDPR.  If you have further questions as a victim of a data breach or are ready to begin your claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

We could assess your claim to see if it could bring you compensation. And, we could connect you with a No Win No Fee lawyer that could help you. There are many ways that you could get in contact, including:

Where To Learn More

In this final section of our guide to making a claim for a data breach by a solicitor, we’ve included some extra resources you may find useful.

My Employer Breached My Data Privacy – If your data has been breached by your employer, you may find this guide helpful.

Pharmacy Data Breaches– You can find out how to claim compensation for a breach of your data by a pharmacy here.

Medical Data Breach Compensation Claims – It is not only solicitors who could be responsible for data breaches. If you have suffered as a consequence of a medical data breach, this guide reveals everything that you need to know.

General Data Protection Regulation – If you would like to refer to the GDPR in full, you could use this link to view it.

ICO Make A Complaint – If you would like to make a complaint to the ICO because of a data breach that you have experienced, you could use this link to do so.

Using Personal Data In A Business Or Organisation – This link, which takes you to the UK Government website, helps you to get a better understanding of what businesses should and should not do when it comes to personal data.

Other Guides Available

Thank you for reading our guide to compensation claims for a data breach by a solicitor.

Guide by JJ

Edited by REB