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Action Against Public Authorities Solicitors

Duncan Lewis Secures Significant Settlement in UK GDPR Claim Against the Disclosure and Barring Service (16 April 2024)

Date: 16/04/2024
Duncan Lewis, Action Against Public Authorities Solicitors, Duncan Lewis Secures Significant Settlement in UK GDPR Claim Against the Disclosure and Barring Service

Ida Kingstedt from Duncan Lewis’ Actions Against Public Authorities team has achieved a substantial settlement in a case involving a breach of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).


Background to the Claim


In 2021, our client (the Claimant) secured a new job with a very good salary after he was successfully headhunted. However, his employment was contingent upon a satisfactory DBS check. Our client’s employer applied for an enhanced DBS check and sometime after, a Certificate was dispatched by the DBS. Despite being completely innocent, the DBS erroneously issued a Certificate containing inaccurate information regarding a criminal record with convictions that were unrelated to our client. Consequently, his employer terminated his employment, causing damage to our client’s reputation and emotional state.


Despite the Claimant’s diligent efforts in raising a dispute with the DBS, his new employer had been informed that the DBS Certificate contained a criminal record and terminated his employment with immediate effect. It was not until after the termination of his new employment that the DBS upheld the Claimant’s dispute, admitting that he had been matched with the wrong record and that a replacement certificate would be completed.


The Claimant was unable to get his new job back and his subsequent job search was marred by the stigma of the inaccurate DBS disclosure, impeding his ability to secure employment for nearly ten months. This caused him a great level of distress and his reputation was damaged. At each interview he attended, he was forced to explain the incident with the DBS and he felt that prospective employers hesitated to hire him for that reason.


Legal Implication


The UK GDPR governs how organisations in the UK collect, govern and process personal data. Under the UK GDPR, organisations are mandated to uphold seven fundamental principles set out under Article 5 of the UK GDPR including lawfulness, transparency, accuracy, accountability and data minimisation when processing personal data. The DBS's failure to ensure the accuracy of the information provided to our client directly contravened Article 5(1)(d) of the UK GDPR which sets out that:


“Personal data shall be…accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay”.


Article 82 of the UK GDPR entitles individuals who suffer material or non-material damage as a result of GDPR infringements to seek compensation. In this case, the Claimant suffered financial loss and emotional distress as a direct result of the DBS's negligence.


Our Resolution


Ida Kingstedt, representing the Claimant, commenced pre-action correspondence for a potential civil claim with the DBS. An Employment expert was instructed to provide a report detailing the impact on the Claimant’s employability and prospects of obtaining a similar job. It was not until around 10 months later that he was able to secure a job paying the same salary as he had been offered at the previous job.


The case was successfully settled with the DBS during the pre-action stages, securing substantial compensation for the Claimant. The compensation encompassed both the financial losses our client suffered and the emotional distress he endured throughout the ordeal.


Counsel Frederick Powell of Doughty Street Chambers was instructed in this matter.


About the Author


Ida Kingstedt was instructed by the Claimant in this matter, with Graeme Rothwell supervising the case. Ida is an experienced caseworker in our Actions Against Public Authorities department. Her passion lies in holding public authorities accountable and providing support to clients who find themselves in intimidating and vulnerable situations. In her role, Ida works on a diverse range of matters relating to actions against the State as well as inquest proceedings. She is instructed by clients who wish to raise complaints and claims against the police, prisons, detention services and other public bodies. Ida has experience working with Data Protection claims and from working in a data right agency.

Our Claims Against Public Authorities team, is expert in holding public authorities to account when they abuse their powers, fail to observe their professional obligations, or otherwise act unlawfully. It has assisted a wide variety of clients as a result of their experiences at the hands of the state and regularly represents bereaved families in inquest proceedings and assists in bringing civil claims against the police, the prison service and government departments.

For advice about any Claims Against Public Authorities matter contact Ida via email at IdaKi@duncanlewis.com or via telephone on 020 7275 2880.

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