13 September 2013 #Employment
As you may be aware compensation can be awarded for breaches of the Data Protection Act (DPA).
How such compensation should be calculated has recently been considered by the Court of Appeal in Halliday v Creation Consumer Finance ( EWCA Civ 333).
In this case Mr Halliday purchased a television on a consumer credit agreement provided by Creation. Mr Halliday sued Creation in the County Court and further issues arose whereby Creation breached the DPA in a number of ways. Creation provided incorrect information about Mr Halliday to a credit reference agency and that was then made available to third parties. This ultimately did not affect Mr Halliday’s credit rating, the problems were held to have happened over a limited period of time and was a single error. Mr Halliday had suffered distress which he was entitled to be compensated for and the County Court awarded nominal damages which were not quantified. Mr Halliday appealed the decision.
Given the nature of breaches the Court of Appeal decided relatively modest compensation of £750 should be awarded.
It was argued by Mr Halliday that compensation for DPA breaches should be assessed in the same way as injury to feelings in discrimination cases but that argument was rejected as inappropriate for breaches of the DPA.
While this case was not an employment case the same compensation issues could apply to DPA breaches in the employment relationship and it is a reminder that care should taken when handling data at work as complaints or litigation and penalties may result.