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The Supreme Court, has effectively stopped a group action on behalf of consumers against Google

Customer disputes

The highest court in England and Wales, the Supreme Court, has effectively stopped a group action on behalf of consumers against Google. In Lloyd v Google. It was alleged that Google had breached the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to what it did with iPhone user’s data, and that users were entitled to compensation.

Google firmly denied the allegations. The Supreme Court has made a ruling which has the effect of stopping the group action carrying on.

Does this mean that large companies are entitled to do what they want with consumer’s data and the courts won’t be interested? No. The Supreme Court left the door open for people to bring claims for compensation for data misuse in the future. The reason why they stopped this case was that they found that there was no evidence that any individuals had suffered material damage or distress as a result of the use of the data. That may be because of the way this case was presented, and it is possible that cases in the future could present that evidence, in which event they may succeed.

However, there is also another issue arising out of this case which presents a problem for others. The legal costs are likely to be huge, the case having been fought through several appeals. The losing party in this sort of litigation is usually ordered to pay the winners legal costs, so it is probable that the group action will face a very large bill from Google.

Often these type of group actions are underwritten by Litigation funding companies who will pay the costs in return for a share of the compensation if a case is won. The decision in Lloyd v Google may mean that Litigation funders would be more wary of supporting data misuse group actions, and it would be very costly for consumers to fund it themselves. So, this case may make such group actions more difficult to pursue on a practical basis.

However, none of this changes anything for individuals who have suffered demonstrable loss or distress as a result of misuse or loss of their data. For example, if your personal information is leaked and you suffer fraud as a result, that type of claim on behalf of yourself is not prevented by Lloyd v Google.

If you have suffered damage, loss or distress as a result of data breach or misuse and you want to find out if you can claim compensation then you should consult a lawyer specialising in data law. You can search for a regulated lawyer with this specialism for free on our site, and we will not ask for any of your personal data.