News: Morrisons found liable in landmark data protection group action

1 12 2017

The supermarket chain Morrisons has been found to be vicariously liable for the leak of the personal data of employees by its former Senior IT Auditor, Andrew Skelton.

The claim is a landmark group data protection action by 5,518 employees.  The trial of the claims of 10 lead claimants took place before Langstaff J on 9 to 19 October 2017.

In a judgment handed down today (Various Claimants v Wm Morrisons Supermarket plc [2017] EWHC 3113 (QB))[pdf] the judge held that the defendant supermarket was vicariously liable for Mr Skelton’s data breach.

He rejected the claimants’ argument that Morrisons were under a primary liability to the claimants.  However, he also rejected the Morrisons’ argument that, on a proper interpretation, the DPA excluded vicarious liability, even in respect of actions for misuse of private information and breach of confidence.  The Judge gave permission to appeal.

The claimants were represented by Jonathan Barnes of 5RB and the defendants by Anya Proops QC of 11 KBW.  There is a 5RB case report.

Nick McAleenan, a partner and data privacy law specialist at JMW Solicitors, who represented the 5,518 claimants, hailed it as a landmark case. He said:

“We welcome the judgment and believe that it is a landmark decision, being the first data leak class action in the UK. Every day, we entrust information about ourselves to businesses and organisations. We expect them to take responsibility when our information is not kept safe and secure.

“The consequences of this data leak were serious. It created significant worry, stress and inconvenience for my clients. Data breaches are not a trivial or inconsequential matter. They have real victims. At its heart, the law is not about protecting data or information – it is about protecting people.”




3 responses

1 12 2017
News: Morrisons found liable in landmark data protection group action — Inforrm’s Blog | L8in

[…] via News: Morrisons found liable in landmark data protection group action — Inforrm’s Blog […]

1 12 2017
4 12 2017
Law and Media Round Up – 4 December 2017 | Inforrm's Blog

[…] had a post about this decision which was widely covered in the media, including the Guardian, the BBC, Sky News and the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: