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Damages for distress awarded by Court under data protection law


The High Court has awarded two people damages for distress after breach of data protection law.

An organisation had published a report that contained personal data about them which they successfully alleged was inaccurate, had been processed unfairly and unlawfully and which the organisation had not taken reasonable steps to verify.

They were awarded £18,000 each for distress.


There are very few cases about the amount of compensation people should receive for ‘distress’ when their personal data has been compromised. The facts of this case are unusual, so the amount awarded may not be representative for most cases.

The judge said “Damage” for these purposes is not confined to material loss. Compensation for distress is recoverable in any case, even if material loss is not sustained … and compensation is recoverable for a contravention that interferes with [an individual’s] control over his data, even if this does not cause material damage or distress. That compensation must provide redress for the interference with autonomy, and any distress caused by the breach. It seems to me that the Court’s approach to the assessment of damages for reputational harm and distress resulting from inaccurate disclosures of personal data should follow established common law principles.”

The amounts awarded were based on the Judge’s assessment that “the claimants were of robust character, not given to undue self-pity” and were accordingly (as described by the judge) “modest”.

If your organisation is looking to comply with the requirements of the GDPR then take a look at how our CSaaS and DPaaS solutions can help.

Appointing NormCyber as our virtual DPO has given Ferrero the best of both worlds – access to data protection experts who understand what we stand for as a business, without the hefty overheads usually associated with appointing an in-house DPO.

Harpreet Thandi
Regional Counsel, UK & Ireland, Ferrero

We were looking for a virtual DPO service that offered all of the benefits of a fully qualified data protection lawyer, without the overheads of an in-house hire. The DPaaS solution from norm. has been invaluable in helping us to ensure we respect the integrity of our customers’ personal information, while using it to continue to deliver differentiated products and services which support our growing customer base.

Mike Whitfield, Compliance Manager

CSaaS allows me to step away from multi-vendor management as the Security Operations Centre coordinates all of the technology for me.

David Vincent, CTO

We were in the market for an independent Data Protection Officer service that was well versed with both UK and EU regulators. We’re thrilled to have acquired this service knowing that an expert is available 24/7.

Suzanne McCabe, Head of Project Management
James Hambro & Partners

Norm’s penetration testing layer, along with the suite of CSaaS modules has enabled MA to exceed all its audit requirements for its major clients.

Rob Elisha, ICT and CRM Manager
Montreal Associates

The speed of your Data Protection Officer’s response was very impressive – it was far quicker than I would have expected even from an in-house DPO

Will Blake, Director of Technology and Analytics
CRU Group