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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.

  • Andrew Wells says:

    HFP is indeed the wrong place for them to advertise, as comments above show. Readers here are too savvy and check the very small print.

    They are after the less well informed audience, hence spreading the net wider and mainly using social channels to advertise it. I see their ads from time to time, but also won’t be getting involved.

  • Martin says:

    Ha ha! Made my day this news did.

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    <£20 cost per lead seems pretty good to me given what I imagine the value per plaintiff (to the lawyers) might be. Am I missing something?

    • Chris says:

      Perhaps. But I think Rob’s point is that he could have achieved better value.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Unlikely given the editorial stance. Unless the point was that such a stance would not have stood up to a bit of cash. I must admit, I was confused by that statement in the article.

    • Rob says:

      I wouldn’t have charged £200,000 to sign up 10,000 HfP readers from a handful of articles.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Would anywhere near 10k really sign up?

        I’d hope the readership, commentators or not, had more sense than signing up to ambulance chasers after a quick pay day

        • Rob says:

          They have been signing people up since early 2019. We could have done 10k in two years – we get 300,000 unique visitors per month.

  • Mark Powell says:

    I was so pleased to see this from Rob. I encourage any hfp readers, if they see a social media ad for the claim to respond sharing the hfp articles. The more that this claim is discredited the better for air travel. I would rather insurers paid businesses affected by covid and BA focussed on maintaining their business and beleaguered employees.

  • Chrisc says:

    I’ve had a couple of sponsored adverts for this appear on my Facebook feed which I just scroll past.

    Strikes me as a very scattergun approach.

    £443k / 23.3k = approx 20 quid per client signed up. Not sure if that’s a good rate of return or not.

    Wonder how many people looked at what they were signing up to and didn’t like what they saw or couldn’t find emails from BA about their data being leaked that these lawyers need and just gave up.

  • Ce says:

    I joined an action but as Covid developed tried to withdraw as I felt bashing BA with all the current problems was wrong.
    I was repeatedly told by the lawyers that if I withdrew then I could be personally liable for some of BA’s costs should BA win. Only if I remained in the action would I be protected by the lawyers insurance.
    I was therefore forced to carry on !
    Caveat Emptor

    • Alex Sm says:

      There is nothing wrong in bashing the negligent behaviour especially given the fact that BA has already got a 89% haircut off the original fine!

    • meta says:

      I withdrew and won’t be incurring any costs.

      They kept on asking me to sign more and more documents which I declined to do. I emailed them to ask how I can withdraw, then they started being vague about it.

      Then the judge ordered that the case is merged and only one or two law firms can be leading the case. This is the moment where I could withdraw without any further liability. This was material breach of the contract. I got a solicitor friend to send them an email saying I only signed up with them due to their expertise in data breaches and I do not wish to be represented by another law firm. He also asked them to transfer all the documentation to him as he’ll be handling it from now on.

  • Catalan says:

    “A greedy person and a pauper are practically one and the same”

    Good luck to those of you who signed up!

  • DZOO says:

    As a claimant (which I am not), I would be delighted that so few people have joined the Class. If this works in the same way as the US system and assuming there is no further opportunity to join the Class post-award, any award will be shared pro-rata and so larger slices of the pie all around!

    • JDB says:

      I think you will find any damages will be considered on a per capita basis and will be very low, so the size of the class won’t matter. To the extent that BA covers any actual losses that can be proved to have been caused by the data breach (ie compensatory damages) any additional (general) damages will not be very meaningful. What personal harm can those affected by the data breach really show and what would it be in monetary terms?

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

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