Data breach compensation lawyers Hayes Connor – one of two UK “ambulance chasing” legal firms wooing British Airways customers – has reported an eight-fold increase in business in the past 12 months, amid claims that breaches can not only hit consumers in the pocket, they also trigger “mental health issues”.
Along with SPG Law, Hayes Conner is suing the airline for damages on behalf of customers who they claim have been affected by the breach, even though BA insists there is no evidence the compromised data has been abused.
However, it is not only BA that the Widnes-based company is targeting, having seen a surge in both mass data breaches and individual cases following high profile data protection violations in both the public and private sectors.
Hayes Connor issued a claim for damages of up to £5m against ticketing giant Ticketmaster in the High Court in April and is also acting against Equifax, Marriott International, TeamSport, Dixons Carphone and the Police Federation of England & Wales.
Managing director Kingsley Hayes said: “Since GDPR came into effect there have been a number of data breaches involving the private details of thousands of UK consumers.
“[We have] experienced significant growth in this period which has been driven both by greater accountability following GDPR and heightened consumer awareness.”
Hayes has also upped the ante by claiming that not only are victims of data breaches suffering potential, or actual, financial losses, ” [they] may also have experienced mental health issues as a result”.
He added: “The cost to businesses who fail in their data protection obligations is rising. We estimate that the cost of compensation for damages will be upwards of £20m following mass data breach incidents such as Ticketmaster, BA and Marriott.”
Despite these claims, as yet not a single penny has been paid in data breach compensation cases in the UK, with one of the first class actions in this country, launched in 2015 against Morrisons, yet to be settled.
The situation in the US is not much better. Last month, Equifax made a $700m (£562m) settlement with the US authorities, over its 2017 data breach that affected 147 million customers in the US, Canada and the UK. This is on top of the $1.35bn (£1.1bn) the firm has already shelled out, bringing the total bill – so far – to over $2bn (£1.6bn).
However, affected customers have been given the choice between ten years of free credit monitoring or receiving a payment of just $125 – a shade over a hundred quid – in compensation.
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