We expect solicitors to handle our personal information properly, so if they fail in some way, do you need to know how to make a data breach claim against a law firm? Data breach security incidents can be the result of an innocent accident or deliberate negligence such as external cyber assaults. Either way, you could be owed damages if it impacted you.
This guide will explain the legislation in the UK that protects our personal data and the steps you can take to get compensation after the distress of a data breach harmed you or financial loss did. Accident Claims can offer advice on how a No Win No Fee agreement might enable you to start a claim right now. Find out by reading more in the sections below.
- You can call our team for free on 0800 073 8801
- Or contact us online and request a callback
- Read the latest on our Accident Claims blog
- Alternatively, you can discuss compensation amounts in a data breach claim against a law firm immediately by using the ‘live support’ option
Select A Section
- What Is A Data Breach Claim Against A Law Firm?
- Types Of Data A Law Firm May Hold
- What Data Protection Rights Do Clients And Employees Of Law Firms Have?
- How Could A Law Firm Breach Data Protection Regulations?
- How Is A Data Breach Claim Against A Law Firm Valued?
- Find Out If You Could Sue A Law Firm
The Data Protection Act 2018 and supporting legislation under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) require all those who collect, hold and process personal data to do so in compliance with strict regulations. Personal data breaches are security incidents that cause personal data to be lost, disclosed, destroyed, accessed, or changed unlawfully or accidentally.
To start a data breach claim against a law firm, it’s necessary to show that their wrongful conduct caused the personal data breach. You’d also need to be able to show that you suffered psychological harm or financial loss because of the breach.
An independent medical assessment report that shows the level of distress created can be used as evidence for compensation for mental health injuries, as can receipts and bills that demonstrate out-of-pocket costs incurred through the breach of your personal data.
Trends In Data Protection Breaches
The graph below shows the percentage of organisations that have had data breaches over a 12-month period according to the Government Cyber-Security Breaches Survey 2020.
Law firms are required to hold a good deal of personal information as they negotiate on their client’s behalf. Divorces, house sales, wills, and probate are just some of the areas that a legal team may become involved in.
This means that they need information that goes far beyond names and addresses. As well as this, they could retain data considered a special category under UK GDPR law which is data considered to have the potential to cause particular damage after a security breach. Typically retained personal data by lawyers can include:
- Email address and mobile phone number
- Ethnic or racial background
- Political, philosophical, or religious beliefs
- Biometric and genetic information
- Health data
- Bank and credit card details
- Information on spouse or dependents and family
- Criminal history and legal proceedings
- Wills and deeds, copies of birth and death certificates
- Passport information
The UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act apply to personal data, whether it belongs a client of the law firm or an employee. The law states that, as data subjects, we have a legal right to expect that identifiable information about us is handled in strict accordance with data protection law and that we have the right to:
- Be informed about how our personal data is collected and used
- Access our personal data and any supplementary information in certain circumstances
- Have inaccurate personal data corrected or completed
- Restrict data processing in certain circumstances
- Portability, which is a way of allowing the data subject to get their personal data and reuse it for their own purposes
- Object to certain types of data processing
- Query automated decision making, as well as profiling
- Withdraw consent to data use at any time as appropriate
- Complain about personal data use to the Information Commissioner
It’s important to note that there can be conditions under which data must be provided such as issues of national interest or HMRC and criminal instances. Speak to our team for help with any aspect of your data breach claim against a law firm.
With this in mind, how might a law firm breach data protection regulations in a way that could harm you?
- Human error could result in a paralegal or solicitor making a mistake either verbally or in written communication that reveals personal data. This may result from an email sent to the wrong recipient or paperwork posted to an incorrect address.
- A law firm may fail to regularly update or renew its IT defences, potentially making it easier for an external cyber attack to take place.
- Also, they may fail to train staff properly in UK GDPR or apply the legally required codes of conduct adequately.
A data breach security incident can cause tremendous suffering and inconvenience. A case called Vidal-Hall v Google established a precedent whereby it became possible to claim compensation for mental health injuries in their own right, with or without financial damages being present.
Non-material damages for a data breach claim against a law firm can therefore be calculated using the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG), which is used for assessing the value of personal injury claims. It lists potential award brackets for psychological distress. We’ve included some figures from the JCG in the compensation table below.
|Type of Psychiatric Injury||Potential Compensation||Supporting Notes|
|Psychiatric Damage Generally||(a) Severe Level - £54,830 to £115,730||Pronounced problems in areas of work, personal relationships and coping.|
|Psychiatric Damage Generally||(b) Moderately Severe Level - £19,070 to £54,830||A better prognosis than above but a long-standing disability still in place.|
|Psychiatric Damage Generally||(c) Moderate Level - £5,860 to £19,070||Issues may have improved somewhat by the time the case goes to trial.|
|Psychiatric Damage Generally||(d) Less Severe Level - £1,540 to £5,860||A single existing anxiety issue such as sleep disorders or travel phobias.|
|Anxiety Disorder (PTSD)||(a) Severe Level - £59,860 to £100,670||Permanent and profound trauma issues that radically impact all areas of the sufferer's life.|
|Anxiety Disorder |
|(b) Moderately Severe Level - £23,150 to £59,860||A different award bracket that reflects some improvement after professional intervention.|
|Anxiety Disorder (PTSD)||(c) Moderate Level - £8,180 to £23,150||A general recovery leaving issues that are manageable.|
|Anxiety Disorder (PTSD)||(d) Less Severe Level - £3,950 to £8,180||A full recovery within a 1 to 2 year period leaving only minor issues.|
Therefore, with the right medical evidence to back your claim up, your data breach claim against a law firm could include similar settlement amounts. Please be aware, however, that these sums are illustrations only.
As well as this, the material damages can include actual financial losses to you caused by the data breach incident. For example, the repercussions of leaked data by a lawyer may:
- Diminish any settlements you were negotiating
- Need to seek new legal representation
- Impact your business reputation adversely
- In addition, it could result in the theft of funds
Suing a law firm may feel understandably daunting and whilst anyone is free to represent themselves, data breach claims can greatly benefit from legal assistance. With this in mind, at Accident Claims, we can introduce you to a member of our panel of data breach specialists who could take up your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. What are the benefits of a legal agreement such as this?:
- First and foremost, the solicitor requires no upfront fee payment
- Next, as the case proceeds, there is no solicitor’s fee to pay
- If the case fails, under a No Win No Fee agreement, there is no solicitor’s fee to pay
- Also, a winning outcome only requires a maximum 25% deduction from the settlement to cover solicitors’ time and efforts in obtaining a positive result for you.
No Win No Fee can offer the essential flexibility and cost-effective advantages to help you start a claim today. Speak to our team on the contact details below and they can explain the best way to initiate your data breach claim against a law firm:
- So you can call our team for free on 0800 073 8801
- Or contact us online and request a callback
- Alternatively, use the ‘live support’ option
In conclusion, as well as details on a data breach claim against a lawyer, we can offer guidance on other forms of damaging security incidents involving your personal information:
- More details and FAQs on UK GDPR compensation
- What are your rights after a social services data breach?
- FAQs about your rights after a credit card data breach
- Tips for staying safe online from the government
- Further help on online safety for young people
- Details about the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)
If you’d like to find out more about making a data breach claim against a law firm, why not get in touch?
Guide by JJW
Edited by RV