Damages for data protection breaches in adoption proceedings

A woman looks out of the window through a blind

I have recently acted for a number of adoptive parents who, whilst in the process of adopting children, have had the safety of their family put at risk by data protection breaches by the local authority. In those cases, the birth family were given the adoptive parents’ details (names and addresses) by the Local Authority.

These families were entitled to damages for the financial consequences of those breaches as well as for the distress that they have suffered.

I have successfully recovered significant damages for families affected by serious data breaches which have allowed families to relocate and ensure their new family is protected from being traced by the birth family now and in the future. It was vital that damages were made available as soon as possible and even before the adoption proceedings were finalised to ensure protection was in place and offer reassurance to the family and children that the adoption could safely go ahead.

Damages for a successful breach of data protection claim in adoption or other similar circumstances can be significant. The costs to the family could be considerable if they need to move to a new home, relocate to a new area or take other measures to keep their family safe. I have spoken with security experts about measures that can be employed around the house (e.g. CCTV, secure windows, etc), internet/social media safety and liaising with the local police force. These are not necessarily one-off costs and it is important to recognise that the risk may always be present and further steps may be needed at various times in the future.

The claims may not be limited to the specific costs that are needed to protect the family but can also take into account the wider effects of the data breach. For example, the psychological impact of knowing that the birth family now know who they are could have far-reaching consequences and the decision to relocate could impact on their careers and other aspects of the family’s life.

Every case will be different and the damages should reflect the impact of the data protection breach on the individuals involved – not just the adoptive parents but the children as well.

If you have been the victim of a data protection breach then please do contact Gary Walker for initial free advice.