Merseyside firm gathers evidence for Facebook data breach claims


Hayes: “tip of the iceberg”

A specialist firm in Bootle, Merseyside, is gathering evidence for a potential Facebook data breach group action, it has emerged.

Kingsley Hayes, managing director and owner of Hayes Connor Solicitors, an alternative business structure, said the firm had received “hundreds of enquiries” and signed up dozens of potential clients.

“We’re trying to lead the way in helping people understand their rights and whether they have been victims of a data breach,” he said. “At the moment it’s mainly about awareness.”

Mr Hayes, whose firm has also been gathering claims for a group action against consumer credit reporting agency Equifax, said: “What’s emerged so far could just be the tip of the iceberg. We could be talking about one of the largest ever group actions of its kind in the UK courts.”

Facebook and consulting firm Cambridge Analytica are at the centre of a dispute over the misuse of the data of up to 50m Facebook users to influence the outcome of the US presidential election and Brexit referendum in 2016.

Mr Hayes said the future of any group action would depend partly on the outcome of an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

He said anyone worried that their data had been misused by Facebook should check the apps they enabled through the platform and whether they had any letters from Facebook warning them of potential misuse.

The solicitor advised potential claimants to note down their concerns and why they believed the privacy of their data had been breached.

Mr Hayes added that it was too early to say what kind of funding model would be used for the group action, but it was unlikely to involve clients having to pay legal fees in advance.

Barrister Ian Whitehurst from Exchange Chambers, instructed by Hayes Connor to work on the case, commented: “A group action is undoubtedly the best way forward for data breach claims of this nature.

“It allows people with the same type of claim in principle to bring it together on a collective basis to strengthen their overall position and increase their chances of settlement or success in litigation.

“What’s more, with a group action claimants often share the legal fees. Even better, while the cost of pursuing small claims can be a barrier to justice, by grouping cases together, solicitors are often able to run group actions on a no win-no fee basis.”

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