Witness Data Breach Claims – How To Claim Compensation

In this guide, we will look at the process of claiming if you were affected by a witness data breach. If you were a witness to a crime, then your personal data might need to be processed in relation to this.

Witness data breach claim guide

Witness data breach claim guide

There are laws in place to protect the personal data of individuals. The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 are pieces of legislation which make up the regime that protects personal data. Furthermore, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the independent body that was set up to promote data privacy. 

The ICO can levy fines against organisations that breach data protection laws, but they cannot compensate individuals who are affected. If you want to discuss your potential claim with us in more detail, you can:

Select A Section

  1. What Are Witness Data Breach Claims?
  2. Types Of Witness Data
  3. Witness Data Breach Consequences
  4. How To Make Data Breach Claims
  5. Data Breach Claims Calculator
  6. Starting Witness Data Breach Claims

What Are Witness Data Breach Claims?

A personal data breach is a kind of security incident that affects personal data. Personal data is defined as any data that can be used to identify you. As well as information that can identify you on its own, such as your name, personal data also covers data that someone could use to identify you by combining it with other data.

In order to be considered a personal data breach, the security incident must have impacted the availability, integrity or confidentiality of your personal data. If your personal data has been affected by a breach, and this threatens your rights and freedoms, then the organisation responsible should tell you about the breach without undue delay.

You cannot claim just because a breach exposed your personal data. You must have been caused harm, and the breach must have been caused by the failings of the organisation that was processing the data. If they took all necessary steps to protect the data but a breach occurred despite this, you would not be able to claim.

Information must be stored in order to be considered data. It doesn’t matter whether it’s stored digitally, for example on a memory stick, or physically like in a filing cabinet.

For more information on the steps you could take if affected by a witness data breach, get in touch with our team today. They could help you claim data breach compensation.

Statistics On Crown Prosecution Service Data Breaches

The Crown Prosecution Service has published a document on their website that shows a full breakdown of personal data incidents that occurred in 2018-19.

It shows that there were:

  • 1,378 instances of unauthorised disclosure
  • 27 instances of lost laptops/tablets/Blackberrys
  • 172 instances of lost electronic media and paper documents from secured government premises

Types Of Witness Data

Personal data, as we’ve already touched upon, is information that can be used to identify you. It could include:

In addition to this, an organisation could also hold special category data on you. This is a more sensitive form of personal data that requires extra protection.

It could include personal data relating to:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Genetic data
  • Biometric data
  • Trade union membership
  • Health
  • Sexual orientation

If your personal data has been exposed in a breach and this caused you harm, you could have a valid witness data breach claim. Speak with an advisor for more information on whether you could sue a company for exposing your data.

Witness Data Breach Consequences

If your personal data has been involved in a witness data breach, this could have a number of different effects on you. For example: 

  • If you were a witness to a violent crime, you might fear retaliation if your identity is exposed. This could cause severe anxiety and distress.
  • You may need to move home because you fear for your safety after the breach. This could cause you to incur costs (for example, the cost of a moving van) and could also cause psychological injury if you feel you have been uprooted from your home.
  • You may need to remove your children from school, particularly if you have to move home. This could incur costs such as new school uniforms. In addition to this, you could be distressed at the impact that this is having on your child and their education and social development.
  • You may have to move jobs because you fear being found at your usual place of work. This could result in an employment gap which leads to a loss of earnings, or a reduction in your wages in your new role.

If your data was exposed in a witness data breach, speak with our team of advisors today. They can offer you free legal advice about making a claim.

How To Make Witness Data Breach Claims

If you suspect that your personal data has been exposed in a breach, then you can contact the organisation in question. They can advise you about whether a breach has occurred, whether your data was affected and, if so, which data was impacted.

If you’re not satisfied with how the organisation has responded to your concerns, then you can contact the ICO to report the breach. However, you would need to do so within 3 months of the last meaningful communication with the organisation; if you wait any longer, then the ICO may decline to investigate.

In anticipation for making a claim, you might want to collect evidence. This could include:

  • Receipts and invoices to show any costs you have incurred as a result of the breach
  • Medical records. For example, if you went to your GP with symptoms of anxiety or depression after the breach, then the records showing this could be used to support your claim.
  • Records of any relevant communication between you and the organisation responsible for the breach.
  • Records of the harm you were caused. If, for example, you received threatening letters to your address after a witness data breach, this could support your case.

Seeking legal advice is also advised when making this kind of claim, as a data breach lawyer has the experience necessary to make the process run more smoothly. Speak with us today for more information on working with a solicitor.

Witness Data Breach Claims Calculator

You may be wondering how data breach compensation is calculated. When it comes to making a witness data breach claim, there are two types of damages you could receive. These are called material and non-material damage.

Material damages refer to the financial impact that the breach has had on you. For example, if your bank details were stolen, this could cause you to lose money.

Non-material damages refer to the psychological or emotional impact of a breach. For example, you may become anxious that the perpetrator of the crime you witnessed is able to identify you as a result of the breach. Furthermore, you might have to take steps for your safety (such as moving home) that take you away from your friends, family and support system. You may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTDS) as a result.

The Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc [2015]  was a Court of Appeal case that changed the way data breach claims are valued. This ruling means that you no longer need to have suffered financially in order to be compensated for psychological harm.

Legal professionals can value the psychological harm caused by data breaches using a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines. We’ve included an excerpt from this below.

Injury Severity Bracket Notes
Mental Harm Severe £54,830 to £115,730 Very poor prognosis, and problems coping with a wide range of factors relating to life, work and education.
Mental Harm Moderately Severe £19,070 to £54,830 Similar injuries as in more serious cases, but with a more positive prognosis with some potential for positive rehabilitation.
Mental Harm Moderate £5,860 to £19,070 Despite some initial problems coping with life, work and education, there will be a good prognosis. A marked improvement will be observed.
Mental Harm Less Severe £1,540 to £5,860 Several factors will be looked at to value injuries in this bracket, including impact on sleep and the length of time that the claimant was disabled by their injuries.
PTSD Severe £59,860 to £100,670 The injured person will not be able to function how they did before the trauma. Their life will be negatively affected in all areas.
PTSD Moderately Severe £23,150 to £59,860 There will be a better prognosis than in more severe cases. The injured person will, however, be significantly disabled for the foreseeable future.
PTSD Moderate £8,180 to £23,150 A recovery will largely have been made. Any effects that continue will not cause major disability.
PTSD Less Severe £3,950 to £8,180 Recovery within a year or two. The only symptoms that will persist past this point will be minor.

For an assessment of how much your claim could be worth, speak with an advisor today.

Starting Witness Data Breach Claims

Our solicitors can offer representation with a No Win No Fee agreement in place. A Conditonal Fee Agreement is a popular kind of No Win No Fee agreement.

If you are unsuccessful in your claim, you will not be charged for your solicitor’s services. Furthermore, you won’t be asked to pay an upfront or ongoing fee to them.

However, if your claim is successful, you will pay a small cost from your settlement. This comes in the form of a percentage of your award, and is subject to a legal cap.

To get in touch, you can:


Below, we’ve included some more of our guides that you might find useful:

How to claim for a university data breach

Claiming for a salary information breach

How to make a data breach claim against a law firm

We’ve also included the following that you might find useful if you’ve experienced a data breach:

Information from the NHS about anxiety

Details of action the ICO has taken 

Guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre

If you have any more questions on what to do if you were impacted by a witness data breach, please get in touch.

Guide by AC

Edited by FS