Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
Court claims are funny beasts, particularly when in the hands of litigants in person or even just clients coming to us for the first time without having been through the process before. This is because, unlike the pain of childbirth, litigants do remember how painful it can be and don’t often try it a second time without a really good reason.
With many cases, the claim is quite straight forward. You paid for a builder, or a web designer or a supplier to do a job for you. They didn’t do it, or they didn’t do it properly, and now you want your money back and/or compensation to put it right. All fairly simple stuff. Of course you’ve still got to prove all those things, but we have ways of doing that.
However, with some cases, whilst the “breach” can be quite straight forward to identify, the level of damages for example can be much harder to put a figure on.
Data protection is the latest area of law to feature in analysis of value. People get very sensitive about their data (and with good reason) but simply because someone may have misused it, doesn’t automatically mean you have suffered a loss, or at least not a very big one. In a recent case, someone who was being pursued by a debt collector was outraged to find that an email to them, demanding payment, had accidentally been sent to a colleague in the same company with a similar name. I have no doubt that the person was highly embarrassed, but that’s nothing compared to some of the things people choose to post about themselves on social media. The case ended up in the High Court, with a potential legal bill of £50k, only for the Judge to indicate that the damages were worth in the region of £3k.
And people wonder why it’s taking longer and longer to get a trial date these days!
However, that wasn’t why I wanted to blog about this case.
I could have used it to demonstrate how easy it is for the costs of a case to become vastly disproportionate to the damages.
Or that simply because you have a valid claim, doesn’t mean it’s worth pursuing.
Or even that you should never assume that your claim is worth a huge amount, just because it’s a hot topic.
All of those things are true, but are not the moral of this story.
Those of you who were lucky (or unlucky!) enough to have heard one of my presentations in the run up to the introduction of GDPR may remember me saying that much too big a deal was being made out of it. That doesn’t mean that I was telling people to ignore the legislation or not take it seriously. Far from it. But what I was telling people was that they didn’t need to spend thousands on GDPR policies and training. It was important to have a well thought out and carefully considered policy and to make sure all of their staff were properly trained on it, but the kinds of fines and sanctions that would be handed out to smaller businesses for minor infringements was not going to be huge, particularly if you could demonstrate that you’d taken all reasonable steps to prevent it and/or learn from the experience. This case highlights that exact point.
Or, put another way, just because you can spend a lot of money on compliance, doesn’t mean you should or that you need to! Especially not with us around to help.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Less painful than childbirth.