Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (53)

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

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Rob a serious question would you have run with the story/action if they’d have paid you enough ?

    • Rob says:

      If they’d approached us in 2019 pre covid we might have, yes. BA was making over £1 billion per year profit at that point. We wouldn’t do it now as an editorial partnership. They are free to buy advertising like anyone else, of course, and some of the ads pop up on here anyway via Google Adsense.

  • D D says:

    Yep. And commenters on their social media adverts have not treated the ambulance chaser lawyers kindly.

    There was a bit of hand-waving about insurance cover, but it still appeared to me that anyone joining the spree might still be on the hook for some costs in case of failure. In the event they lost the case, suppose the insurers chose not to pay out if they decided the case had not been handled correctly? Anyway, all seemed a bit too parasitic for me, and not the time to be kicking the airline industry or their employees.

  • Matarredonda says:

    Court actions of this type disgust me.
    The so called ambulance chasers of the legal world are slime and you can be totally sure they themselves win big.

  • Bear-ingup says:

    Maybe they should have advertised in the Daily Mail?

  • Will says:

    I’m not hugely versed on the original details of this breach, but wasn’t it pretty badly handled by BA? Didn’t they break the rules on reporting etc.

    Now regardless of whether or not this firm is honourable or not, and putting to one side BA’s current financial predicament, BA have an obligation to handle your data in accordance with the law of the land, which they did not snd further if they turn failed to act appropriately once the breach was known I do think that’s a very serious case for such a well resourced company.

    You can’t just tell customers your handling their data correctly and not be handling it correctly.

    As for damages, cancelling credit cards/changing passwords/remaining vigilant for other online accounts that may have shared passwords / physical addresses so fraudsters can guess login /payment authentication. That’s a real thing for anyone who was affected by the breach that’s taken up hours of their time and potentially continues to be a concern.

    BA definitely shouldn’t be getting away without reasonable penalty/comp for that.

    Different story if their systems were robust and compliant and reporting was done correctly.

    Apologies if my understanding of the breach isn’t correct and they did have good systems and reported corrrctly.

    • ChrisC says:

      BA have been fined £20m by the Information Commissioner for allowing the breach in the first part and how they subsequently dealt with it

      As a fine this goes back to the UK and European governments that were covered by the ICOs investigation and not to any individuals whose data was part of the breach.

      • kitten says:

        Yes however that fine has established the proof that BA was guilty.

        Is it a criminal offence they got fined for? or civil. If criminal even more helpful as that would mean an even higher level proof requirement has been satisfied.

        I think the art on getting civil compensation for this will be getting a formula for quantum of compensation accepted. On an individual basis in UK courts this would be quite a task and I believe would require a more than good case to be made proving cause and effect of specific losses.

        If there is no level of compensation specified in the law that found BA guilty then I think the lawyers are going to have a tough job on the civil side as they would be breaking a lot of new ground here so far as the UK legal system is concerned.

        I am not an expert here but I think the compensation for individuals should be framed within the legislation BA was fined for breaching and a credible level of fine should also have been levied on BA even if it was necessary to make it a balloon payment or spread it over several years to be paid.

        • ChrisC says:

          As far as I’m aware there is no provision in the GDPR legislation for compensation to be paid to those affected by a data breach.

          Lets say the ICO fine of £20m is used as a limit by the judge (not saying it will be but if a regulator feels £20m is sufficient punishment then why should a judge disagree?) then do you divide that amongst the 23k people who signed up with lawyers or those that had some details leaked or those that had credit card details leaked?

          • kitten says:

            It ‘s quite possible that a judge might disagree with a regulator. Going by the paltry fine this made it look like one of the all too many regulated industries without sufficently strong regulators or whose regulators are all too cosy with the industry they’re supposed to be regulating

            A pI55-poor 20 million – what? 1/500th or less of *profits* (not turnover) for the year? makes me think the regulator is not a strong regulator regardless of circumstances.

            The courts and judicial reviews are a way of getting justice a regulator has not provided.

  • the_real_a says:

    I do hope the lawyers used a points earning credit card to buy the £1m Ads. How ironic would it be if they earned Avios from it 🙂

  • TJ says:

    There is a place for class action lawsuits but this case isn’t it. My concern is for the folks who may have been duped into signing up on the basis that winning was more or less a done deal and that they had nothing to lose (“no win, no fee”). However, they may find themselves on the hook to pay hidden costs buried deep in the small print (disbursements, etc).

  • James says:

    I didn’t join… sure I’m peeved that BA allowed my data to be stolen, but life is already hard enough for airlines

    • QwertyKnowsBest says:


    • Jon says:

      Consequential loss to me is zero. Amex said don’t worry, we will catch fraud, and either there was no fraud from my stolen details or they were right. Still waiting to see those fraudulent transactions, but nada so far. I can’t on the basis of that sue BA in good conscience, especially as a shareholder!

    • Peter says:

      Same here. I didn’t join. I don’t want to see BA get killed off, which sounds unlikely but big names have fallen before these class action law suits were a thing in the UK. Plus I’ve not lost any money as it stands. My passwords aren’t repeated so I should (touch wood) be okay.

    • Charlieface says:

      If I felt sorry for BA I would agree with you. But they are so underhanded I’m beyond caring about them.

      I still didn’t join, not interested in being on the hook for some lawyer’s fees if it fails, and any case I think the ICO should force them to pay out direct to victims, without anyone going to court

    • BS says:

      BA is not a charity. It doesn’t deserve my sympathy, and will happily eat me up and charge me eye-watering amounts for a last-minute ticket in an emergency. They are there to make one thing, money, and don’t care about you.
      I now continuously get calls from people pretending to be my bank, HMRC, my council tax, accident investigators etc. I can’t for sure say it’s related to the BA data breach, but they did start soon after then. This is despite me being on the TPS. Especially annoying when abroad as I pay £2 per minute to receive them.

      • Will says:

        I agree, if BA cared so much about its customers it would have encrypted their cc numbers and cvv’s.

        The breach was an outrageous case of negligence on BA’s behalf.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.