Whether it’s a snow day or just a duvet day, privacy and GDPR geeks can at last justify the need to sit at home and stock up on daytime TV in the name of research. On 22 February 2018, judgment was handed down in Ali v Channel 5 [2018] EWHC 298 (Ch), a case arising out the television series “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away”.

This case concerned the filming of the eviction of the Claimants, Shakir Ali and Shahida Aslam, from their rental property in April 2015. 

The judge acknowledged the complex factual and legal issues that were raised in the case. The judgment is lengthy and warrants a detailed review but, in essence, the claimants argued that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy which was violated when the eviction was filmed and subsequently broadcast. Not every aspect of the filming was deemed private by the judge but certain aspects were. The judge found that an award of compensation was appropriate.

As this was a misuse of private information case, the judge was entitled to consider damages in line with established legal principles:

(i) the misuse of the private information itself;

(ii) the damages for distress caused; and

(Iii) aggravated damages for distress not caused directly by the wrongdoing, eg, by the way the claim has been litigated.

The judge made no finding in respect of (i) and (iii) but found each claimant could show distress and quantified damages at £10,000 each.

So, what does this have to do with GDPR? Art 82 provides that individuals may claim compensation for material (financial) and non-material (I.e “distress") caused by GDPR breaches. This case is further legal precedent building on the quantification of “distress”. Another recent case, TLT v The Home Office [2017], awarded distress damages of between £2,500 and £12,500. The Channel 5 case supports a valuation of distress claims in this band.

If you’d like a 'cheat-sheet' of recent case law dealing with the quantification of distress in DPA and privacy claims, please get in touch. For more information on expected claims under GDPR, please take a look at our research report here.