Data Breach Compensation Claims Guide

By Danielle Fletcher. Last Updated 1st December 2023. In this guide, we’ll discuss data breach compensation examples and when you could make a valid claim following a breach of your personal data.

All organisations that process your personal data must adhere to the rules and regulations set out for them in the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). Failure to do so could result in a data breach that compromises your personal data. If you can prove your personal data was breached due to an organisation’s failings, and as a result of this, you suffered financial loss or mental harm, you may be eligible to make a personal data breach claim.

Within this guide, we will discuss in more depth when you could make a claim for a UK GDPR breach and the compensation that could be awarded for successful claims. Furthermore, we will share examples of how a data breach could occur and the evidence you could use to support your personal data breach claim. This guide will also explore some of the benefits of making a claim with a No Win No Fee solicitor.

To find out whether you may have an eligible claim and to receive free advice, you can contact our advisors. They are available 24/7 to help answer your questions and can be reached by:

Data breach compensation

Data Breach Compensation Claims Guide

Select A Section

  1. What Is A Data Breach?
  2. What Evidence Can Help A Data Protection Breach Compensation Claim?
  3. How Can Data Breaches Happen?
  4. Data Breach Compensation Examples
  5. Making Data Breach Claims With A No Win No Fee Lawyer
  6. Read More Data Breach Compensation Guides

What Is A Data Breach?

A data breach is a security incident that affects the integrity, security, or availability of your personal data. This is any data that can be used to identify you as a living person. As we’ve already mentioned, this data is protected by the UK GDPR and the DPA.

The two parties who process to your personal data are known as data controllers and data processors. A controller decides how to use your data, and why they need it; then, a processor follows their instructions.

Article 82 of the UK GDPR sets the eligibility requirements for data breach claims. In order to seek compensation for a data breach, you must be able to prove that:  

  • The data controller or processor failed to adhere to data protection legislation, causing a breach
  • This breach affected your personal data
  • As a result of the compromise of your personal data, you suffered harm. This harm could be damage to your mental health, financial losses, or both. 

Please contact our advisory team today to get more information on claiming data breach compensation and to learn more about the claims process.

What Evidence Can Help A Data Breach Compensation Claim?

You could be awarded compensation for a data breach if it involved your personal information and you suffered mentally and/or financially. Providing sufficient evidence could help increase your chances of securing compensation. Some of the evidence that could be collected to support claims for a personal data breach in the UK include:

  • A notice letter from the organisation responsible for the breach stating that your personal data was compromised. This letter should also state what personal information was involved in the breach, e.g., your email address and phone number.
  • You could report the data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). They are an independent body that upholds information rights. They could investigate the breach, and their findings could be used as evidence.
  • A copy of any scam emails or text messages that you may have received following the personal data breach.
  • A copy of your medical records stating that you were diagnosed with a mental injury, such as anxiety, following the breach.
  • A copy of your bank statements to prove any financial losses, such as money being taken from your account.

Do not hesitate to contact our advisors today to receive free legal advice regarding your claim. They could also answer questions you may have about the UK GDPR or compensation claims for a personal data breach.

How Can Data Breaches Happen?

We’ve touched upon some of the ways in which a data breach can happen. They may involve deliberate, criminal acts, or simple incidences of negligence.

Regardless of how a breach occurs, it could cause significant damage to those affected.

In this section of our guide to seeking data breach compensation, we wanted to provide you with examples of ways in which breaches can happen. Largely, they fall into two categories—those relating to cybersecurity and everything other than cybercrime-based breaches.

Cyber Security

If you’ve heard about significant data breaches in the news, it’ll most likely be the result of some form of cybercrime.

Some of the most common data breaches relating to cybersecurity involve:

  • Ransomware attacks – hackers gaining access to systems and adding a layer of encryption to prevent people from gaining access. Data is often stolen too, with copies made. The ability to regain access to data, or to secure the deletion of stolen information, often involves a ransom being paid to the hackers. This is what happened with the Blackbaud hack.
  • Phishing – this cybersecurity threat is on the rise. Phishing attempts involve posing as a legitimate organisation to trick people into entering their private and sensitive information. This may be a username or password, which hackers can then use to gain legitimate access to servers.
  • Malware – this is an umbrella term for any type of software that’s designed to harm a computer or network.

Non-Cyber Security

Non-cyber security data breaches often relate to instances of human error. Some examples include:

Data Breach Compensation Examples

As explained, you can seek two types of compensation for a data breach:

  • Compensation for financial losses under material damage.
  • Compensation for suffering psychologically under non-material damage.

You can make a claim for material damage to address any financial losses you had suffered because of your data protection breach. For example, you could claim for:

  • Loss of earnings – if you were unable to work due to the breach
  • Replacement costs – for any damaged materials or items you had to replace or repair
  • Loss through theft – If your personal information had been used to fraudulently steal money from you

You should maintain any relevant records of financial losses to use in your claim.

In order to assess the amount of compensation to award, a claim for non-material damage will look at your level of psychiatric harm. To show you how this could be awarded, we have included a table describing various levels of clinically diagnosed psychological injuries, alongside example amounts of compensation. These figures come from the 2022 edition of the Judicial College Guidelines and can help you understand how psychological injuries could be valued in a claim.

Severe Psychological Harm + Special DamagesSevereSevere psychological damage combined with significant financial losses, covering costs such as lost earnings and pension contributions, as well as counselling and prescriptions.Up to £150,000+
Psychiatric Damage GenerallySevereA very poor prognosis with the person severely struggling to cope with normal working/social life.£54,830 to £115,730
Psychiatric Damage GenerallyModerately SevereDespite the person still struggling with significant issues, there will be a much more optimistic prognosis.£19,070 to £54,830
Psychiatric Damage GenerallyModerateA good prognosis with marked improvements mad, despite suffering with various issues.£5,860 to £19,070
Psychiatric Damage GenerallyLess SevereHow much daily activities and sleep were affected, as well as the length of the disability, will affect how much is awarded.£1,540 to £5,860
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSevereAll areas of the person's like will be negatively affected, with them being unable to function as they did pre-trauma.£59,860 to £100,670
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderModerately SevereThe person is still likely to suffer with a significant disability for a while. However, there is room for some recovery with professional help.£23,150 to £59,860
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderModerateA large recovery will have taken place with only minor effect persisting.£8,180 to £23,150
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderLess SevereWithin 1-2 years a full recovery will have virtually been made.£3,950 to £8,180

You can seek both types of damage in a single claim or potentially claim for psychological damage alone. This is a departure from how compensation for a data protection breach was previously awarded in the UK. Prior to 2015 you could only make a claim for being affected mentally by a breach if it was part of a claim for financial harm. This changed following the ruling in the appeals case of Vidal-Hall v Google [2015].

If you are looking for a valuation for compensation in your data breach claim, please reach out to one of our advisers. They can value your claim and give you information about common data breach compensation amounts in the UK.

Data Protection Breach Compensation – More Examples

When making a claim for a personal data breach in the UK, you could also be eligible to receive a figure that addresses the material damage caused by the breach. As well as compensation for stress caused, you could also claim if your finances have been affected as a result of the breach.

For example, your income may have been affected. The psychological impact of experiencing a data breach may mean that your ability to work becomes compromised for an extended period of time. If so, the money you’d have earned over this time could be included as part of the material damage portion of your claim. Your salary can be covered, but also tips, bonuses, and pension contributions.

Make sure you have proof of these losses. Receipts and payslips are good examples of evidence of material loss. If you want to know more about how data breaches can affect finances, or the potential value of compensation for a data breach, get in touch with our advisors today.

Making Data Breach Claims With A No Win No Fee Lawyer

A solicitor from our panel could help you with your personal data breach claim. They have years of experience handling personal data breach claims and could help you with gathering evidence. Additionally, if one of them agrees to take on your case, they may offer to work with you on a No Win No Fee basis under the terms of a Conditional Fee Agreement (which is a type of No Win No Fee agreement).

When working with a No Win No Fee solicitor, they won’t ask you to pay upfront fees. If your claim is not successful, you usually won’t be expected to pay your solicitor for their services. Alternatively, if your claim does succeed, your solicitor will deduct a legally capped success fee from your compensation.

Get in touch with our advisors if you have any questions about claiming compensation for a data breach. Our advisors can offer you free advice for your potential claim and could connect you with a solicitor from our panel.

Contact our advisors today:

  • Call our free 24/7 advice line on 020 3870 4868
  • Use our live chat feature.
  • Or complete an online claim form for a free call back.

Read More Data Breach Compensation Guides

You may also find the following guides on data breach claims useful:

We hope our guide on data breach compensation amounts in the UK and other related matters has been useful for you.