Kerry Underwood

GOOGLE: ACTION FOR DAMAGES FOR BREACH OF DATA PROTECTION ACT FAILS

with 2 comments


Underwoods Solicitors are acting for the Joint Administrators for The Cambridge Analytica Group of Companies

Kerry Underwood offers consultancy services in relation to this and other matters and details are here.

In

Lloyd v Google LLC [2018] EWHC 2599 (QB)

the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court refused the claimant permission to serve the proceedings on Google, permission being needed as Google is a foreign corporation which had not agreed to accept service of the proceedings.

The claimant alleged breach of duty under the Data Protection Act 1998, the allegation being that in 2011/2012 Google secretly tracked the internet activity of Apple iPhone users and collated that information and sold it.

Mr Lloyd was the only named claimant but was suing in a representative capacity on behalf of other people in England and Wales.

No financial loss or destress was alleged and the claim was for compensation for damage and was made under section 13 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

No other remedy was sought.

The claim was for an equal, standard, tariff award for each member of the class, to reflect the infringement of the right, the commission of the wrong, and loss of control over personal data.

In the alternative each class member sought damages reflecting the value of the use to which the data were wrongfully put by Google.

No specific figure was suggested for the tariff, although a range of figures was put forward, and the letter of claim suggested a figure of £750 per potential claimant.

The claimant’s best estimate is that the class comprises 4.4 million people and Google’s estimate of the potential liability is between £1 billion and £3 billion. In its own summary the High Court said that there was no dispute that it is arguable that Google’s alleged role in the collection, collation, and use of data obtained was wrongful, and a breach of duty.

The main issues raised by the application were:

  • whether the pleaded facts disclosed any basis for claiming compensation under the Data Protection Act;
  • if so, whether the court should or would permit the claim to continue as a representative action.

Here, in a judgment running to a 105 paragraphs, the High Court held that the facts alleged in the Particulars of Claim did not support the contention that Mr Lloyd or any of those represented by him had suffered damage within the meaning of section 13 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

In any event, even if it had reached the opposite conclusion, the court would have refused to allow the claim to continue as a representative action because members of the class do not have the same interest within the meaning of CPR 19.6(1) and/or it is impossible reliably to ascertain the members of the represented class and in any event permission to continue the action in this form would be refused as a matter of the court’s discretion.

Section 13 of the Data Protection Act 1998, in so far as relevant, read:

13. Compensation for failure to comply with certain requirements

(1) An individual who suffers damage by reason of any contravention by a data controller of any of the requirements of this Act is entitled to compensation from the data controller for that damage.”

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Written by kerryunderwood

January 21, 2019 at 7:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Well defended. I don’t think I’ve ever seen litigation that was so specifically designed to be of benefit only to the lawyers and the litigation funders rather than the actual claimants.

    I’m very glad that such speculative abuse of the court system has been slapped down, hopefully leaving the funders with a very large bill.

    Pro Bono

    January 21, 2019 at 11:25 am

  2. Do not necessarily agree with that, and I suspect that you are being unfair on the lawyers and litigation funders, who were no doubt acting on instructions, as we all do.

    Kerry

    kerryunderwood

    January 21, 2019 at 11:56 am


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