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Lawyers in British Airways data breach compensation case lose £1m fee claim

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I recently looked at the pros and cons of joining the heavily advertised Group Litigation Order currently working through the courts in respect of the 2018 British Airways data breach.

A group of legal firms is bringing the first US-style class action lawsuit of its kind in the UK. If you sign up and were impacted by the British Airways data breach in 2018, you could receive a payment.

A court hearing was held last week to discuss what costs should be born by BA if it loses.

PGMBM, one of the law firms involved, believed that – if it wins the case – British Airways should pay for the £1m advertising campaign that PGMBM has been running to find claimants.

PGMBM claimed that it had spend £443,000 on advertising so far and intended to spend another £557,000 before the case was heard.

At the High Court on 2nd February, Mr Justice Saini told PGMBM to take a hike.

He made it clear that PGMBM’s advertising costs would not be recoverable from British Airways if the airline loses the case. They must be met from the cut of the proceeds paid to the lawyers by the claimants.

You can read more in the Law Society Gazette here.

PS. If you read the full judgement, you will see that only 23,000 people have so far joined the action despite advertising spend of £443,000. Head for Points could have generated a large percentage of this on its own! The advertising budget has not been well spent so far.


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Comments (53)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Al says:

    Makes sense. Advertising costs are overheads not disbursements.

  • Rob(staaaar) says:

    I was wary of joining the group action due to the lawyers’ small print – and when I say small print, I really mean not even a magnifying lens would have rendered much use. Did anyone else come across this?

  • Den says:

    Yes- You were signing so that they may charge you costs!

  • Jon says:

    What’s that saying again: only 50% of marketing spend works, we just don’t know which 50%!

  • Ted says:

    ‘American style’, in a court arena? what could possibly go wrong.

  • Pb says:

    Splendid , the more ‘Ambulance chasing ‘ can be discouraged the better .

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Completely agree.

      Despicable behaviour

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I should add that we all ultimately pay for because those that are sued have to recoup their costs eventually.

        If it’s a genuine claim and you genuinely suffered because of the data breach then I hope you win big but my feeling is that this is looking for anyone and everyone regardless of what actual harm was. Caused and it’s going to end in no one winning but the lawyers.

        • sayling says:

          For those that suffered genuine losses, I hope you are able to fully recover those losses, perhaps with a small compensation for being a victim of criminal activity.

          It’s a shame that has to be sought from another victim, BA, as the real criminals have yet to be caught.

          I hope nobody wins big, as there shouldn’t be any big winners here

        • JDB says:

          I don’t think there is any prospect of anyone winning big! BA’s lawyers will be OK, but the GLO lawyers are probably on some sort of contingency fee. Even if the plaintiffs win, they are only likely to get a very modest / token sum and if they lose, they are potentially at risk of some costs as the small print readers have spotted. Our system is very different to US class actions where you are also usually automatically signed up if you are a member of the class with an opportunity to opt out. As far as expecting to recover the advertising costs is concerned I can’t understand how they ever thought that was a runner.

  • I am not a cat says:

    Before rushing to judgement, let’s see how this pans out.

  • Matty says:

    Seems like those collecting the advertising revenue are the real winners here.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Nah they’ll pay no more than £40 a person, assuming they pick no more people up.

      They stand to make way more than £40 a person win or lose.

    • Yuff says:

      And the lawyers

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