A High Court ruling by Justice Mark Warby means half a million customers can join a lawsuit against British Airways (BA).
Following a 2018 data breach, an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that the names, payment details and addresses of roughly 500,000 customers were stolen by hackers. Part of the hack saw customers being diverted to a fake website through which their details were stolen by hackers.
In July this year, the ICO announced its intention to fine the company £183 million – the first and largest to be levied under GDPR by the ICO. In a statement, the ICO said it had found that BA had been compromised due to poor security arrangements at the company.
Under GDPR, the ICO can levy up to 4% of a firm’s global turnover, BA’s fine represents 1.5% of its global turnover. The High Court ruling will see additional costs added to the already high cost of the fallout from the breach. Before GDPR, the ICO could only impose a fine of up to £500,000 with 20% off for early payment.
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In a statement after the fine was announced, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “People’s personal data is just that – personal. When an organisation fails to protect it from loss, damage or theft it is more than an inconvenience.
“That’s why the law is clear – when you are entrusted with personal data you must look after it. Those that don’t will face scrutiny from my office to check they have taken appropriate steps to protect fundamental privacy rights.”
Already more than 5,000 affected customers are being represented by SPG Law and an additional 230 are being represented by Your Lawyers Limited, according to the Daily Mail. It is believed that all of them are going to go ahead with compensation claims.
In a statement, Aman Johal, director of Your Lawyers, said: “Today’s grant of a group litigation order is a key step towards justice for the hundreds of thousands of victims of the British Airways data breach scandal.”
Warby has granted a period of 15 months for people to come forward and join the group litigation, which means the number of claimants could climb significantly. The ruling follows in the wake of a pilot strike that took place in September, which saw pilots walk out over working conditions and pay. It is believed the action lost the airline around £120 million with 30,000 travellers impacted adversely as a result.