Misuse of personal data

18 October 2016

18 October 2016

Is there a minimum level of compensation for workplace privacy claims following the misuse and disclosure of an individual's personal data?

No, held the Central London County Court in Brown v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.

The Claimant was a former police officer who brought claims under the Data Protection Act 1998, and the Human Rights Act 1998.

As part of a disciplinary investigation her employer, the Metropolitan Police, had made enquiries of another police force to find evidence that she had taken an unauthorised holiday while off sick. This involved the unlawful use and disclosure of the Claimant's personal data.

Both police forces accepted there had been breaches of the right to privacy. The judge distinguished workplace privacy claims from hacking claims, and held that damages based on the facts of this case should be substantial, but less than the minimum £10,000 threshold adopted in hacking cases. Awarding a figure of £9,000 the judge found that, although the breach was serious, this was not a hacking case involving the disclosure of highly personal material for gain, wide distribution, or with the intent to injure or embarrass.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin which provided the details of this case.