Exemplary damages ‘never appropriate’ as negotiating strategy

Claims for exemplary damages ought to be ‘wholly distinctive’ and awards rarer nonetheless, the main media and privateness decide has warned. In Underwood & Anor v Bounty UK Ltd & Anor, The Honourable Mr Justice Nicklin stated: ‘It’s by no means applicable so as to add a declare for exemplary damages merely to mark how upset the claimant is concerning the defendant’s conduct, or as some type of negotiating strategy.’

Nicklin, head of the media and communications listing, was ruling in opposition to a declare introduced in opposition to an NHS belief over the misuse of knowledge a few new child toddler. The judgment can be carefully scrutinised by solicitors bringing claims of legal responsibility for the misuse of personal info. 

The case concerned the actions of Bounty UK, a ‘being pregnant and parenting assist membership’, whose authentic enterprise mannequin concerned brokering advertising and marketing knowledge about new households. This ceased in 2018 and the next 12 months Bounty UK was fined £400,000 over a ‘critical contravention’ of the 1998 Knowledge Safety Act. In response to the judgment the enterprise went in to administration in 2020 and its belongings had been acquired by Stevenage-based Bounty Pleasure Restricted. 

The Underwood household introduced the declare in opposition to Hampshire Hospitals NHS Basis Belief over the alleged behaviour of a Bounty consultant following a troublesome delivery in 2017. In response to the judgment, the consultant imposed herself on the brand new mom who described herself as being ‘in a zombie-like state’ and inspected paperwork held on the finish of her mattress. On returning residence, the mom began to obtain focused emails and cellphone calls. 

After acquiring a default judgment in opposition to Bounty UK, the claimants argued that the NHS belief was accountable for the breach of knowledge together with the newborn’s identify, intercourse and date of delivery, which they claimed had been taken from medical data. They sought normal, aggravated and exemplary damages. Nonetheless, whereas he may ‘actually perceive’ the mother and father’ emotions, the decide accepted the hospital’s proof that knowledge had been taken not from medical data however from an incomplete ‘new toddler bodily info kind’ saved on the foot of the mattress.

Whereas the Bounty consultant mustn’t have learn the shape, there was no proof that NHS employees ‘stood by’ and allowed this. 

In the meantime, the decide stated, details about hospital sufferers will inevitably be shared inside the ward. ‘A functioning hospital can not do its job with out making obtainable not less than some restricted knowledge,’ he stated, citing the instance of a discover warning of antibiotic intolerance. 

Even when the claimants had established that the hospital was accountable for misuse of personal info, the data obtained by Bounty – the identify, gender and date of delivery – was ‘trivial’, he dominated. This evaluation can be carefully scrutinised by events bringing data-breach claims.

Nicklin concluded that claims for exemplary damages ‘ought to solely be pleaded the place there’s a correct foundation to take action and supported by admissible proof’. 

Source link