Data claims in distress

22 Feb 2022

When GDPR (and the Data Protection Act 2018) landed in 2018 much of the focus was directed at the level of fines that could be imposed for a data breach. Little, however, was said about compensation claims for distress from those whose data had been breached. It would appear many thought that compensation, too, would be significant. 

Whilst there is still no definitive guidance on the level of compensation that is recoverable in small data breach claims, the evidence suggests very low-value claims might end up being worth just a few hundred pounds. Some have taken to issuing data breach claims in the High Court in an attempt to achieve higher compensation and better their costs’ position: successful small claims do not generally result in costs being recoverable by the victor whereas they can be in the High Court. The costs of litigating compensation claims in the High Court are likely, however, to outweigh the value of them by some margin, and the recent case of Stadler v Currys Group highlights this perfectly.

Retail giant Currys sold Mr Stadler a television, which unfortunately turned out to be faulty. He returned the TV and Currys repaired and re-sold it to another customer. All seemed well until the second buyer managed to use Mr Stadler’s Amazon account to buy a movie for which Mr Stadler was charged £3.99. This was possible because Currys had not performed a factory reset as part of its repair process, resulting in Mr Stadler’s personal data (including his Amazon account) remaining stored on the TV and allowing the second buyer to use it. 

Mr Stadler understandably complained to Currys. and it refunded the £3.99 and offered him £200 in vouchers as compensation. Mr Stadler was not happy with this and issued proceedings in the High Court for breach of UK GDPR, misuse of private information, breach of confidence and negligence. He sought compensation for psychological distress, anxiety, and loss and damage. 

Currys applied to strike out the claim but the data breach element was allowed to continue. The judge, however, transferred the case to the County Court and suggested it be allocated to the Small Claims Track. He made it clear that claims of such as Mr Stadler’s were not suitable to be heard in the High Court as the associated costs were too high in comparison to a potential damages award in the hundreds rather than thousands of pounds. We are unlikely to learn of the final award but it is safe to say that Mr Stadler will not be walking away with a return on his litigation investment. 

We are seeing an increasing number of claims of isolated data breaches and for breaches of the rules relating to the setting of cookies by clients’ websites: the latter appearing to be particularly opportunistic. These claims can be time-consuming and troubling for clients. Our data protection experts can provide not only advice and training, where required, but can also assist when that letter of claim hits your inbox.  Please contact Tim Ashdown, Debbie Venn or John Yates for further help.  

Further reading

Ganz v Petronz FZE & Goren – key decisions of the arbitration claim

Blog, Legal Updates
The recent Judgment in the arbitration claim Mordchai Ganz v (1) Petronz FZE (2) Abraham Goren [2024] EWHC 635 has already received attention from legal pundits.  The DMH Stallard’s legal team (Tim Ashdown, Beatrice Bass and Patrick Murray) acted for the Claimant. DMH Stallard was supported by the legal team of Altshuler Law in Israel which is a collaboration enabled through their membership of LEInternational.
Read more Read

Reversal of changes to High Net Worth Individual and Self-certified Sophisticated Investor criteria implemented

Blog, Legal Updates
As discussed in our recent update, the government announced in the Budget that the eligibility criteria for the exemptions, which allow shares and other financial instruments to be marketed to High Net Worth Individuals and Self-certified Sophisticated Investors without the regulatory protections
Read more Read

FCA to investigate personal guarantees in small business lending following a super complaint

The FSB has raised concerns that the demand for personal guarantees by lenders has a detrimental impact on small businesses accessing borrowing to grow
Read more Read

ECCTA: Fundamental changes for companies and considerations for lenders: Practical points to note

Tyne Harman outlines some of the key considerations for lenders and borrowers alike to be aware of.
Read more Read
  • Brighton - Jubilee St

    1 Jubilee Street


    East Sussex

    BN1 1GE

  • Brighton - Old Steine

    47 Old Steine


    East Sussex

    BN1 1NW

  • Gatwick

    Griffin House

    135 High Street


    West Sussex

    RH10 1DQ

  • Guildford

    Wonersh House

    The Guildway

    Old Portsmouth Road



    GU3 1LR

  • Hassocks

    32 Keymer Road


    West Sussex

    BN6 8AL

  • Horsham

    3rd Floor

    Afon Building

    Worthing Road


    West Sussex

    RH12 1TL

  • London

    6 New Street Square

    New Fetter Lane


    EC4A 3BF

  • Make an enquiry

    Make an enquiry


    Or head to our Contact us page