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British Airways Data Breach – The Airline has Backed Down on the Claims Window

British Airways have had to do a complete U-turn after they tried to limit the compensation claim time for victims of its numerous data breaches. The airline announced on the 6th September 2018 that their security systems had been breached by hackers and hundreds of thousands of their customers personal data and card payment details had been stolen.

The airline applied to launch its own class action trying to dictate a restricted claim window. Your Lawyers, a consumer rights law firm, exposed the airlines tactics meaning that British Airways attempt to limit the window for sign-ups failed. Originally the deadline was just 17 weeks, this however has now trebled to 15 months. With the cut-off date is now being the 17 January 2021. The High Court of Justice made the decision as it approved the group litigation order initially called by British Airways but ensured the claimant window was reasonable for the large number of victims.

The airline could have to pay out up to £3 billion, based on the average compensation settlements of £6,000 for each of the approximate 500,000 claimants across the two data breaches in 2018. Only around 7,500 potential victims had actually contacted lawyers for compensation claims at the time of the hearing.

Lawyer Monthly reported that Aman Johal, Director of Your Lawyers, said: “When Your Lawyers first flagged British Airways’ underhand tactics – trying to deny victims compensation from the data breaches – the airline claimed its proposed window did ‘not prevent customers joining the group claim.’ After being held up to media scrutiny, we warned that hundreds of thousands of potentials claimants could miss out on compensation, the airline has shown that it is prepared to climb down from its original stance. It claims this was a ‘negotiation’ rather than a cynical push for a low-ball recruitment period.”

British Airways claimed to have notified over 500,000 customers in September and October 2018, that they may have been subject to data breaches in which their personal information and financial details were compromised. Information that was breached included their names, email addresses, billing addresses and card payment details including their card numbers, expiry dates and in many cases their CVV security codes.

It is believed between April and July of last year 185,000 reward booking customers had their personal and financial details compromised, and a further 380,000 more customers were supposedly notified they may have had their data breaches between August and September from the airline’s app and website.

Financial losses from the breach can also be claimed as well as compensation for the distress caused to the victims. Those affected by the breach could receive up to £16,000 or more in cases where psychological injury is extreme. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has also issued a notice of intention to fine British Airways £183 million over the breach. This sum represents 1.5 per cent of BA’s global turnover in 2017. This is set to be the first penalty imposed after the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation law was introduced. Under the new GDPR if an organisation does not protect customers’ data, they can be fined up to 4 per cent of the annual global revenue.

Mr. Johal continued, “British Airways’ U-turn is a vindication for our efforts to champion consumer rights. However, there is still a great amount of work to do – the airline does not have to contact its victims to let them know about what they stand to gain. I encourage everyone affected to join the class action and ensure they hold BA accountable for any losses.”

If you are one of the 500,000 people affected by the BA data breaches, you should act now before it is too late. If you aren’t sure whether you have been affected check if you were emailed by BritishAirways_GB@fly.ba.com in September 2018, under the subject title ‘Criminal Theft of Customer Data, more information’. Search this title or ‘British Airways’ into your email box, junk/spam folder and deleted items to see whether you have received an email.

After a hearing at the High Court of England and Wales Queen’s Bench Division on Friday 4th October 2019, the final cut-off date was established as the 17th January 2021. If you have been affected you could be entitled to up to £6,000. Contact us today via email at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com or consult our data protection team on 0151 203 1104 for free advice on whether you can pursue a claim against BA under a ‘no-win no-fee’ agreement.

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