Domestic Abuse Data Breach – Could I Make A Compensation Claim?

A domestic abuse data breach could involve the release of personal information, some of which could be sensitive, into the public domain. As such, the data breach could put the safety of a domestic abuse victim at risk. For example, it could lead to an abuser using the information to locate the person. This guide will explore when a claim could be made following a breach of personal information that led to financial loss or psychological harm.

Domestic abuse data breach claims guide

Domestic abuse data breach claims guide

If a failure to comply with data protection laws caused a personal data breach, it could result in you suffering emotional distress and other psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Also, the personal data breach could lead to financial losses. For example, if your home address was revealed in the breach you may have needed to move house for your safety. The impact of the breach on your life will be considered when calculating how much compensation you could be awarded should your claim succeed. We will explore this further throughout our guide.

Additionally, we will explore the protection afforded to the personal information of a domestic abuse victim as per data protection law and domestic violence legislation.

Please get in touch with our team to see if you could be eligible to claim compensation. If our advisors find that your claim could be valid, they could connect you with one of our data protection solicitors to work on your claim. Alternatively, they can give you free legal advice regarding your potential claim.

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What Is A Domestic Abuse Data Breach?

A data breach is described by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as a security incident leading to the accidental or unlawful loss, alteration, destruction, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data. A domestic abuse data breach can involve the breach of personal data relating to a domestic abuse victim or a domestic violence case.

Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), data controller’s and data processor’s are responsible for protecting both the physical and digital personal data that they process. A data controller sets the purpose for processing whilst a data processor acts on behalf of the controller. A controller might also process the information themselves.

Some expectations of data controllers and processors under data protection law include:

  • Article 6 of the UK GDPR states that organisations must have one of the six lawful bases to process personal data.
  • There must be adequate security measures, both physical and cyber, in place to protect personal data.

Additionally, the ICO notes the significant potential for harm being caused to an individual due to the nature of data that relates to domestic violence if the data is processed incorrectly. As such, there are several measures that the controller must take to protect personal data in these circumstances.

For example, they must carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) which helps controllers identify and minimise the risks involved with processing the data of individuals who could experience a serious impact.

An organisation could be responsible for a breach of your personal data if it failed to comply with data protection laws. Call us to find out whether you could be eligible to seek compensation.

What Impact Could A Domestic Abuse Data Breach Have?

Domestic abuse is a form of abuse where the victim is ‘personally connected’ to the perpetrator. Abusive behaviour could involve physical or psychological harm. Also, it could involve adults or children.

As such, a domestic abuse data breach could carry several risks for various reasons. For example:

  • Personal data, such as a new address, could have been passed on to an abusive ex-partner by a school without authorisation. This could compromise the safety of a domestic abuse victim and their children.
  • Social services could disclose details to a child’s school about a case of domestic abuse when they were not authorised to do so.

If information relating to a domestic abuse victim is breached, this could lead to the person’s safety being put at risk leading to them experiencing emotional distress. Additionally, if their location has been compromised, they may need to move house again causing financial loss.

Furthermore, an abuser could identify a victim if personal data has been released. Consequently, the abuser may find out how to reach the victim. In extreme cases, the data breach may endanger the victim’s life.

Who Could Have Breached Your Data?

The following types of organisations could process personal data relating to a domestic violence case:

Furthermore, there are various ways a personal data breach could occur, such as:

  • Human error – A worker could accidentally email personal information to the wrong recipient or lose a physical copy of personal information in a public place.
  • Criminal activity – This can include a cyber attack, where hackers gain access to digital information due to the organisation failing to keep their cyber security systems up to the correct standard.

Does The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) Affect A Domestic Abuse Data Breach?

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) is also known as “Clare’s Law”. The DVDS enables police to disclose information regarding the violent or abusive behaviour of a person that could impact the safety of that person’s current or ex-partner.

If the police disclose information under the DVDS, deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes to prevent crime, this is not considered a breach of personal data.

However, if disclosure of your personal data regarding domestic abuse occurred without a lawful basis and was not necessary to prevent crime, this could be an example of a personal data breach. Contact us to learn more.

What Personal Information Could Be Breached?

If a domestic abuse data breach takes place, the breach could expose personal data relating to the data subject. Some examples of personal data that the breach could compromise include:

  • Your name
  • Home address or place of work
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Bank account details
  • Debit and credit card details

Furthermore, the UK GDPR also covers special category data, which is recognised as sensitive in nature and requires extra protection. This includes health data, which could be disclosed in a domestic abuse data breach.

What Could You Claim For After A Domestic Abuse Data Breach?

If a domestic abuse data breach involving your personal data, caused by an organisation’s failings, has caused you emotional harm or monetary loss, you could be eligible to make a data breach compensation claim.

You could receive compensation for material damage which accounts for the financial losses incurred due to the personal data breach. Also, you could receive compensation for non-material damage which accounts for the mental health injuries suffered due to the personal data breach. It is important to note that you can make a claim for non-material damage either with or without making a claim for material damage.

In the table below, we used the 16th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to provide compensation brackets as a guide to non-material damage. The guidelines were updated in April 2022. Legal professionals refer to the JCG to help them value payouts for non-material damage.

Injury Level Of Severity Notes Payouts
Mental Injury Severe (a) The injury causes marked problems which impact day-to-day life and there is a very poor prognosis. £54,830 to £115,730
Mental Injury Moderately Severe (b) There is a much more optimistic prognosis than in the bracket above but there are still significant problems. £19,070 to £54,830
Mental Injury Moderate (c) The person’s injury will markedly improve and they will have a good prognosis. £5,860 to £19,070
Mental Injury Less Severe (d) The amount awarded depends on the extent of the impact on daily activities and how long the symptoms last for. £1,540 to £5,860
Stress Disorder (Reactive) Severe (a) The disorder results in effects which permanently prevent the person from functioning or working at a pre-trauma level. £59,860 to £100,670
Stress Disorder (Reactive) Moderately Severe (b) Whilst impacted to a similar degree laid out in the bracket above, the prognosis will be better with professional help. £23,150 to £59,860
Stress Disorder (Reactive) Moderate (c) Any symptoms are no longer grossly disabling and the person has made a significant degree of recovery. £8,180 to £23,150
Stress Disorder (Reactive) Less Severe (d) The person will almost fully recover within one to two years, though some minor symptoms may persist. £3,950 to £8,180

The contents of the table are guidelines only. Please contact us today to discuss how much compensation you could claim.

Get Advice On How To Make A Claim

You could claim compensation for a domestic abuse data breach if you have evidence to support the following:

  • Firstly, a personal data breach occurred due to an organisation’s failure to comply with data protection legislation.
  • Secondly, this breach compromised your personal data.
  • Finally, you suffered financial losses or psychological harm because of the breach.

Please contact us today to speak to a claims advisor about your case. If our team find your case eligible, they could connect you with a No Win No Fee solicitor.

A solicitor could offer their services under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), which means you do not make upfront or ongoing payments for their services. Additionally, you won’t pay for their services should your claim fail.

However, a successful claim will mean your solicitor receives a small percentage of your compensation, called a success fee. The law caps the percentage.

Please contact us today to discuss your potential personal data breach claim. To get in touch, you can:

Other No Win No Fee Data Breach Claims

Read these guides to learn more about making a personal data breach claim:

Take a look at these external pages:

Thank you for reading our guide to making a domestic abuse data breach claim. If you need any other information, get in touch on the number above.

Guide by JO

Edited by MMI