Scope for damages for data protection violations in the UK widened by the Court of Appeal

April 27, 2015

The English Court of Appeal recently gave judgement in a case arising out of the tracking of Internet behaviour via a web browser. In Vidal-Hall v Google, the Court of Appeal found that:

  • The developing English law of “misuse of private information” was properly classified as a tort. This can be an important issue when an English claimant – as here – would like to bring proceedings against a non-English defendant.
  • Damages for “distress” could be claimed for breaches of UK data protection law even where there is no monetary loss. In so finding, the Court found a provision of the UK Data Protection Act 1998 (which said otherwise) incompatible with the EU data protection directive (95/46/EC) (the “Directive”) and so declared it “inapplicable”; effectively (in a constitutional rarity) striking it from the statute book.
  • It was “clearly arguable” that the “browser generated information” collated by Google was “personal data” within UK (and EU) data protection rules.

At the moment, the case remains at a preliminary stage and further decisions will be awaited with interest.

Read, "Scope for damages for data protection violations in the UK widened by the Court of Appeal" for a background and discussion of the related legal issues.