High Court confirms data breach litigation risk

December 01, 2017


The High Court has confirmed that data breach creates a huge litigation risk for business in the UK.

Today the High Court has found an employer vicariously liable for the acts of a rogue employee who posted payroll data relating to almost 100,000 employees on the dark web. This is despite the fact that the employee went to jail for his acts and the Information Commissioner’s Office chose not to take enforcement action, viewing the company as a victim.

This is the first time that the English Court has held that vicarious liability applies to Data Protection Act claims.

The decision shows why business leaders must pay ever closer attention to litigation risk.

Given that more than 5,000 employees are seeking £10,000 each in damages, the company’s potential liability could be significant.

As a result of this case, the floodgates may open on claims in relation to other personal data breaches, where the multiples could be much higher.

However, this is unlikely to be the end of the story. The judgment may be appealed to the Court of Appeal and even to the Supreme Court given that it concerns important matters of public policy.

How we can help

PwC’s cyber security and data privacy legal team has developed a Personal Data Breach Framework designed to put clients in the best possible position with adverse scrutineers in the event of a breach.

Personal Data Breach Framework

If this Blog has been of interest, please see our recent article on personal data breach – ‘Fines, dirty laundry and the challenges ahead…’

Personal Data Breach Article

Please contact Stewart Room, Kate Macmillan and Ben Prior for full details.

Stewart Room | Partner |  Global Head of Cyber Security and Data Protection Legal Services; Joint Global Data Protection Lead; UK Data Protection National Lead
Profile | Email | +44 (0)20 7213 4306

Kate Macmillan  |  Director | PwC UK's Data Protection Strategy, Legal and Compliance Services  | PwC - UK | [email protected] |+44 (0)207 213 8942