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UK's Legal Ombudsman sued for data breach

Publish date: 08 August 2019
Issue Number: 672
Diary: Legalbrief Forensic
Category: Privacy

The Legal Ombudsman in the UK is being sued by former complainants whose contact details were leaked in an e-mail blunder, notes a report in the Law Gazette. In June, some 300 people received an e-mail from the ombudsman asking them to review how well their complaints had been handled. However, the ombudsman published the names and contact details of all 300 recipients in the address bar by mistake. A ‘small number’ of addressees have now joined together to take legal action against the organisation. They are being represented by data breach specialist Hayes Connor Solicitors. One claimant said: ‘The nature of the disclosure implies that the individual has a legal problem and has complained about a legal service provider. That information is sensitive and confidentiality should have been maintained by the Legal Ombudsman.’ He added that the ombudsman had tried to ‘close down the fuss’ by telling them that litigation would be stressful and costly. Those affected by the data breach were also incensed to find out that the ombudsman had exonerated the majority of the firms they had complained about, the report notes. According to one claimant, this was discovered when e-mail recipients used the leaked contact details to swap messages about their complaints. He said: 'To cut to the chase, every responder was deeply unhappy with the complaints handling and then dismayed further by the disclosure of their individual addresses to each other.'

Full Law Gazette report