Osbornes Instructed After Local Authority Data Breach

11 Apr 2023 | Nicholas Leahy
Confidential file

Osbornes Law have recently negotiated a settlement on behalf of two clients who had their personal information inadvertently released to the birth parents of their adoptive child during adoption proceedings by the Local Authority. The birth parents had opposed the adoption from the outset and both had recent and serious criminal convictions, and had both been sent bundles in which our clients’ confidential and sensitive personal information was contained. The information which was disclosed included our clients’ names, addresses, dates of birth, photographs, signatures and other sensitive personal information, including references which had been given by their friends.

The data breach occurred in February 2022 and Nicholas Leahy was instructed the following month to investigate the claim. A Letter of Claim was sent to the Defendant Local Authority in April 2022 seeking damages under s82 of the GDPR and s.169 of the Data Protection Act 2018. It is widely accepted that damages can be recovered for breaches of data protection legislation even absent specific pecuniary loss (Vidal-Hall v Google [2016] QB 1003). Surprisingly, in June 2022 the Local Authority replied to say that liability was denied, on the basis that our clients were unable to prove that either of the birth parents had seen the data which was disclosed to them, and on the basis that any loss or damage which had been suffered failed to cross the ‘De Minimis’ threshold (as per TLT and others v The Home Office [2016] 2217 (QB)).

It was obvious that a data breach had occurred, and that our clients were entitled to damages for the distress and financial loss which they had suffered. The courts have recently heard a number of claims in which the distress which has been suffered has been held to be trivial (see for example Rolfe and others v Veale Wasbrough Vizards LLP [2021] EWHC 2809 (QB)), however this case was distinguishable. The distress caused to our clients was evidently extremely serious, in that the Local Authority in this case had been unable to retrieve one of the bundles which had been disclosed. The adoption process only concluded during the life of the data protection claim and the birth parents had made clear their opposition throughout.

Nick instructed Daniel Clarke, of Outer Temple Chambers, to advise our clients in relation to the prospects of success in their case and quantum. A schedule of loss was prepared and our clients were advised that if the Local Authority were unwilling to change their stance then court proceedings would need to be commenced.

Osbornes wrote a letter of challenge to the Local Authority outlining the reasons why our clients were entitled to damages and making a Part 36 offer of settlement, however liability remained denied until early 2023. In January 2023 the Defendant made a very low offer of settlement however our clients were advised to reject this. After exchange of further offers of settlement, eventually in March 2023 settlement was reached. Our clients accepted a five figure sum which reflects the distress and financial loss which was caused to them by the data breach, plus payment of their reasonable legal costs.

It is important that where there has been a data breach, careful consideration is given to the precise nature of the breach, and the damage/distress which it is alleged has been suffered. It is often necessary to ask the Defendant to specifically advise what data has been disclosed and to whom, as this can often be unclear. Whilst it is correct that many individual data breaches will not meet the ‘de minimis’ threshold, where that is not the case there is an entitlement to damages.

To speak to Nicholas about your case please contact us by filling in the form below.

Share this article


Contact Nick today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you

    • "Nicholas Leahy works extremely hard and understands the commercial sensitivities of clinical negligence litigation."

      Legal 500 2023

    • Excellent service from Osbornes throughout on a difficult clinical negligence claim. Nicholas Leahy who handled the claim was responsive and professional throughout, while also providing pragmatic advice and clear drafting.

      Client review

    • Working with Osbornes Law was the best decision I could have made. Nick was really attentive to my issue and did a very thorough job. He truly made the process headache free! Highly recommend them.

      Client review

    • Nick Leahy has been my Solicitor throughout this journey and has been absolutely amazing; kind, approachable and extremely supportive... Through some dogged determination by Nick we achieved our goal without having to go to trial. I cannot thank Nick, Stephanie and all of the team at Osbornes highly enough for achieving a very favourable settlement, the outcome of which will make a huge difference to myself and my family.

      Client review

    More from NicholasVIEW ALL

    1. dentist

      Court avoided after settlement agreed in dental negligence...

      The Medical Negligence team have recently negotiated the settlement of a complex dental negligence case. Our client experienced a number...

      Read more
    2. Doctor With Stethoscope And Files

      Delayed cancer diagnosis results in five figure settlement

      The medical negligence team at Osbornes Law has recently settled a case involving a patient who passed away following a...

      Read more
    3. Neglijenta medicala spital din UK

      Justice for client who suffered serious birth injuries

      The Clinical Negligence team at Osbornes Law have recently negotiated the settlement of a case in which our client sustained...

      Read more
    4. Shot of a doctor showing a patient some information

      Serious Injury Following TVT Surgery

      Case Summary Our client, SG, attended her GP in December 2015 complaining of urinary symptoms including leaking when she laughed or...

      Read more
    5. Judge signing arrest warrant

      Court of Appeal Judgement on Secondary Victim Cases

      Judgment was today handed down by the Court of Appeal in the cases of Paul v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Foundation...

      Read more
    6. Pregnant woman holding blanket,

      Wrongful birth claim successfully settled

      Background Our client, J, fell pregnant in October 2015 and took the difficult decision to undergo a termination. She booked an...

      Read more
    7. blood test capsules

      Medical Negligence Case Study: Iron infusion cannula injury

      Nick Leahy, Solicitor in Osbornes Clinical Negligence team recovered damages for his client who suffered an extravasation injury following an...

      Read more
    8. medical negligence & the diagnosis Sepsis

      Sepsis – greater awareness can lead to better outcomes

      In September 2019, I attended the Brain Injury Group’s Sepsis training event in the City of London together with my...

      Read more
    9. maura irwin

      Osbornes represent family of NHS employee

      Osbornes Law is representing the family of a former NHS employee who suffered a painful death due to negligent hospital...

      Read more
    10. hospital bed

      Osbornes Successfully Settle Wrongful Birth Claim

      Nicholas Leahy, clinical negligence lawyer at Osbornes Law has recently negotiated the successful settlement of a wrongful birth case. Our...

      Read more
    11. 13.7.2021

      Family In Cardiac Negligence Claim Against NHS Trust

      Nick Leahy, medical negligence solicitor at Osbornes Law was instructed to pursue a cardiac compensation claim on behalf of the...

      Read more
    12. 9.7.2021

      Legal Support For Bereaved Families

      What legal support is available for bereaved families? The loss of a loved one is an extremely distressing time for...

      Read more
    13. white lilies

      Stillbirth following water birth at home

      Nicholas Leahy acted for a young woman who had a water birth at home and two midwives were allocated to...

      Read more
    14. 23.6.2021

      NHS Plans To Centralise Patient Medical Data Cause...

      Recent news coverage has highlighted the growing concern over plans by NHS Digital (which runs the NHS’s IT system)...

      Read more
    15. 9.6.2021

      NHS Plans To Centralise Patient Medical Data Cause...

      Recent news coverage has highlighted the growing concern over plans by NHS Digital (which runs the NHS’s IT system)...

      Read more
    16. hospital signs

      Failure to diagnose and treat Ogilvie’s syndrome

      Our client  suffered the consequences of a delayed diagnosis of Ogilvie’s syndrome following the birth of her daughter by...

      Read more
    17. 18.5.2021

      Failed to identify nerve damage caused during operation

      The Clinical Negligence team at Osbornes Law have this week successfully negotiated the settlement of a case in which our...

      Read more
    18. 26.4.2021

      Elderly man dies after fall from hospital bed

      A hospital trust has apologised after a vulnerable 84-year-old man died due to negligence after he fell out of bed...

      Read more
    19. doctor

      Why safety improvements for the placement of nasogastric...

      The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has this month launched an investigation looking at the implementation of safety improvements for the...

      Read more
    20. 17.1.2020

      Inquest held for former cab driver

      A former black cab driver starved himself to death in hospital after being allowed to refuse food and drink despite...

      Read more
    21. clouds

      Fatal Claim against West London NHS Trust

      I recently acted in a claim for a fatality against West London NHS Trust for damages under the Law Reform (...

      Read more
    22. 22.5.2019

      Bereavement Award

      A Historic Decision In the case of Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust & Ors (Rev 2) [2017] EWCA Civ 1916,...

      Read more
    23. 25.4.2019

      Brain injured woman awarded seven figure damages

      Our client, a 76 year old woman, tripped and fell on some stairs when she was on her way out of...

      Read more
    24. ambulance

      Bowel Cancer need not be a killer

      Cancer is a word that attracts stigma. Many people believe that if you are diagnosed with cancer you are going...

      Read more