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What is a group action claim?

equifax data hack

In 2015 – in the first group litigation of its kind in the UK – 5,518 people brought a claim against Morrisons under the Data Protection Act 1988, for misuse of private information and breach of confidence. But what is a group action claim and can you join one?

A group action claim is where a group of people – sometimes even thousands of people – have been affected by the same issue. Group action cases are also sometimes called class actions, collective redress actions, or multi-party actions. With a group action, this group of people (the Claimants) collectively bring their cases to court against a Defendant. These victims then fight together to achieve compensation in the High Court of Justice.

The benefits of group action claims

Group action claims are becoming far more common in the UK. Here are just some of the reasons why:

  • Strength in numbers. Starting a claim can be frightening, and it’s not unusual for people who have perfectly valid complaints to be put off due to the risks of going up against a large and well-resourced Defendant. Where cases are very similar, group actions can be a powerful tool and can redress the balance.
  • Save on legal costs. By joining together, individuals can share the risks and costs of claiming compensation. Legal advice is also shared, so not everyone in the action needs to pay for their own solicitor.
  • Help victims with smaller claims. Group actions provide a way for people with more modest cases (that may not justify legal fees) to claim the compensation they deserve. Often, solicitors will agree to take such cases on a no-win no-fee basis.
  • You might not have to go to court. Usually, a Lead Test Case is started, and common issues are tried. The result of this case is then used as a precedent for other cases in the action; so every single claim doesn’t have to be taken to court.

 

Who can make a data protection group action claim?

In data breach cases, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigates any reported breaches and has the power to impose hefty fines. If the ICO believes that an organisation broke the law, this information can be used in court to support a group action claim.

If you have suffered damage or distress caused by an organisation breaching any part of the Data Protection Act, and the ICO finds that the organisation did indeed break the law, you have a right to claim compensation. However, in many cases, where a breach occurs, you won’t be the only person making a claim. In such circumstances, it is often worth joining a group action claim.

However, before you can join a group action, the court decides whether claims can be grouped together. Where approved, a group litigation order (GLO) is created which grants permission for group action proceedings to begin.

In many cases, people start to think about joining a group action before the court has issued a GLO, or even before an organisation has been found guilty and fined by the ICO. For example, at Hayes Connor Solicitors, having witnessed an influx of queries from clients who have received letters from Equifax informing them that their data may be at risk following the latest hack, we are currently building a secure database of victims who want to seek compensation for damages or distress suffered. If Equifax is fined, we will let people know when their claim for compensation can be made and help them get the compensation they deserve.

 

Does everyone in a group action claim get the same amount of compensation?

No. Just because your case is part of a group action doesn’t mean that you will receive the same amount of compensation as everyone else.

All claims within a group action are settled based on their merits, and, as with any case, the value of your claim depends on the extent of your suffering. So if your claim is successful, you will receive what you are owed.

CONTACT US TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MAKING A GROUP ACTION CLAIM

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