Ireland: GDPR: Judicial Remedies

Introduction

With less than a year to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (the "GDPR") it is important to consider the potential consequences for data controllers and data processors in the event of a breach. The GDPR envisages both administrative sanctions and judicial remedies which can be brought side by side. Where a data subject alleges that there has been a breach of the GDPR which has caused the data subject damage, either material or nonmaterial, he or she can lodge a complaint with the relevant supervisory authority within a member state and there is also a right to seek compensation from the data controller or data processor for the damage suffered. For a fuller discussion on administrative sanctions see our linked article.

Ireland's Data Protection Bill

The General Scheme of Data Protection Bill (the "Bill") proposed by the Irish Government provides for a specific cause of action known as a 'data protection action' to be brought by way of court proceedings.

Liability

The GDPR provides that a data controller shall be liable for both material and non-material damage caused to a data subject as a result of data processing which infringes the GDPR. Data processors will be liable where the damage is caused by a breach of a specific obligation imposed on data processors under the GDPR or where the data processor has acted contrary to instructions received from a data controller.

In terms of avoiding liability, the GDPR provides that a data controller or data processor will need to prove that it is not responsible for the event giving rise to the damage. Where multiple data controllers / data processors have a liability, the principle of joint and several liability will apply. This means that the claimant can recover the entire compensation awarded from any one of the liable parties regardless of the parties' individual share of the liability. The party who pays the entire compensation can separately seek to recover from the other parties who are liable.

Types of Damage

Material damage is generally straightforward and quantifiable. However, of more concern is the right under the GDPR of a data subject to be compensated for non-material damage suffered as a result of an infringement of the GDPR. No definition has been provided for what amounts to non-material damage and it remains to be seen whether any guidance will be given by the European Data Protection Board. At present, it would appear to equate to what are known in Ireland as general damages in personal injuries actions being damages which are for pain and suffering and are not readily quantifiable. This is a significant exposure for a defendant in a judicial action and will likely involve an increase in the costs of such actions due to the need to engage experts to provide guidance where non-material damage is claimed.

Under current Irish law, in order for a claimant to be compensated for a breach of his or her data protection rights, the claimant must establish that a data controller / data processor owes him or her a duty of care and has breached that duty which has resulted in damage to the claimant. The Irish courts have found that a claimant is not entitled to compensation for non-pecuniary loss1 being a loss which is not readily quantified such as damages for pain and suffering which appears to equate to non-material damage.

Jurisdiction

The Bill has proposed that the Circuit Court and High Court only will have jurisdiction to hear a data protection action in the first instance. The District Court hears actions where the quantum of damages claimed is up to €15,000 for personal injuries actions with the Circuit Court hearing actions ranging from €15,000 to €60,000 and the High Court hearing claims above €60,000.

It is concerning that the District Court does not have jurisdiction to hear proposed data protection actions under the Bill and it poses a further exposure given the increase in the costs of an action in the Circuit Court in comparison to the District Court.

Representative Actions

A final point of note is that the GDPR provides for a not-for-profit body, organisation or association bringing an action on behalf of a data subject. Current Irish law does not provide for class actions and prohibits litigation funding2 . Therefore, it will remain to be seen whether enacted Irish legislation will allow a not-for-profit body, organisation or association to bring a multi-party action whereby the claims of a number of claimants are brought within the same set of proceedings. In any event, the right of a data subject to engage a not-for-profit body, organisation or association to bring an action on his or her behalf will allow those who may be otherwise deterred from bringing an action (due to the potential cost implications of a finding against them) to bring a claim. Although the entity that brings the action on behalf of a data subject is to be a not-for-profit body, organisation or association, this right may amount to a derogation from the law of maintenance and champerty depending on how such an entity is funded in bringing the action.

Conclusion

It is too early at this stage to predict how exactly the provisions in the GDPR relating to data protection actions will play out. Data controllers and data processors can, however, anticipate that their exposure in the event of a breach will increase, not only as a result of the fines which can be imposed on them, but also because of the scope for an award in respect of non-material damage.

Footnotes

1 See Collins v FBD Insurance Plc [2013] IEHC 137
2 See The Regulation of Crowdfunding in Ireland and Supreme Court Rules against Litigation Funding in Ireland in Persona Judgment

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.