Mr Matthew McConville, the Head of our specialised Data Breach Department at Irvings Law has successfully represented a client called Mr James Smith in a data breach compensation claim against Halton Borough Council.
Mr Smith was a party to child proceedings with his ex-partner in case involving Halton Borough Council. During the same and around the end of September 2019/early October 2019, there was a shooting in Mr Smith’s local area which had connections to his ex-partner. The Police then advised Mr Smith to immediately move out of his accommodation into a safe place so he then moved to Cornwall to stay with a friend.
As the Claimant was representing himself within the said child proceedings, he informed Halton Borough Council of his change of address but told them that under no circumstances were they to inform his ex-partner as to the place where he had moved to for fear for his own safety. Despite Mr Smith telling Halton Borough Council this, they sent paperwork to Mr Smith’s ex-partner which confirmed his above-mentioned new whereabouts in Cornwall. Mr Smith was informed of this by his said ex-partner on text message exchange.
Subsequently, Mr Smith lodged a personal complaint to his social worker who confirmed in text message exchange that the said error occurred. Not satisfied with this acknowledgement, Mr Smith sought further legal recourse.
Mr Smith contacted Mr McConville for expert assistance. Without hesitation, Mr McConville offered to act for Mr Smith on a no win, no fee basis and once instructed, Mr McConville lodged a formal complaint to Halton Borough Council. After this, Halton Borough Council confirmed that they accepted that Mr Smith received a text from his said ex-partner confirming that she knew that he was in Cornwall but refused to investigate the said complaint any further despite several requests to do so. In light of this, Mr McConville contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office (the ICO) for an independent assessment of the breach at hand as Halton Borough Council were unwilling to accept any further fault and after investigation, the ICO concluded that although no specific address was disclosed by Halton Borough Council, the disclosing of information relating to Mr Smith’s location and staying with a friend likely infringed their data protection obligations.
Once this assessment was received, Mr McConville sent a Letter of Claim to Halton Borough Council specifically alleging that they had not kept Mr Smith’s sensitive information safe and secure, they had breached / invaded his privacy under the Human Rights Act, had breached the Data Protection Act 2018/the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as well as confidence following their misuse of private information pertaining to Mr Smith. Also within the said letter and due to the lengthy complaint investigations of Halton Borough Council and the ICO, Mr McConville
issued protective Court proceedings in respect of Mr Smith’s human rights claim as the deadline to do so was approaching. Again, Mr McConville had to do this because despite invitation to Halton Borough Council to extend the date in light of the clear and obvious case against them, Halton Borough Council refused to respond to Mr McConville.
After chasing and chasing, Mr McConville was approached by Halton Borough Council’s Solicitors; Weightmans LLP who admitted liability on behalf of Halton Borough Council and made an offer of £2,493.00 to Mr Smith in respect of compensation and legal costs. After subsequent negotiations, the Claimant agreed to settle his claim in the sum of £6,483.00 without Court proceedings needing to be served.