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Lloyd V Google Supreme Court Decision – What does it mean for data breach claims?

November 10, 2021
Logo of supreme court on building

The long-awaited Supreme Court decision in the case of Lloyd v Google has now been published, but what does it mean for the future of data breach cases and your right to compensation when a breach occurs?

Lloyd v Google involved a claim by Richard Lloyd who issued proceedings in 2017 on behalf of himself and all individuals who has been affected by the “safari workaround” which occurred between August 2011 and February 2012. This allowed Google to track iPhone users’ internet use. The case argued that Google had “illegally misused the data of millions of iPhone users”.

An early application in the case has led to the following outcome:

  • Compensation cannot be awarded under DPA 1998 for a “loss of control” alone, and it is the damage caused by the loss of control (financial loss and/or psychological distress) that gives rise to an award of compensation.
  • That this matter was not suitable to proceed as a representative action as it would be necessary to demonstrate the extent of the unlawful processing of the data, and the specific distress suffered by each claimant.

How will this affect data breach claims?

Individual breaches

Claims arising from individual data breaches affecting only one person, or a small group are unlikely to be significantly affected by this judgement.  When we are approached by a potential client, our first task is to understand how the breach has occurred and the distress that a potential client has suffered as a result. In cases of this type, where distress is suffered it is often clear and significant. This sort of case is unlikely to be affected by the judgment.

Large “group” breaches

We understand that the effect of a breach is different for every individual depending on their circumstances, so even when hundreds, thousands or (in the case of the easyJet data breach) millions of people have been affected, we take specific information about the effect of the breach from each of our clients.

The Court’s decision means that a group action seeking to represent everyone affected by a breach (regardless of whether they have “opted-in” to the claim) is likely to encounter difficulties. It is our view that where a client does choose to bring a claim, and can demonstrate the specific loss or distress that they have suffered, the cases will be allowed to proceed, whether as an “opted-in” group, or as individual cases.

We are currently dealing with a number of individual breach cases alongside a number of group claims arising from the breaches with easyJet, Transform Hospital Group, DivideBuy and Police Federation, amongst others.

If you would like to discuss a possible claim, contact our specialist team of data breach solicitors today on 0330 100 0971 or email claims@fletchersdataclaims.com.

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