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Data cases can be heard in District Court
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18 Jan 2024 / data law Print

Data cases to be heard in District Court

Lawyers at Arthur Cox have welcomed the extension to the District Court of jurisdiction to hear and determine data-protection actions.

They note that section 77 of the Courts and Civil (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2023, which amends the Data Protection Act 2018, is now operational.

In a note on the firm’s website, the lawyers say that the extension of jurisdiction comes against the backdrop of the recent Kaminski judgment, in which it was held that modest compensation was payable for non-material damage under the GDPR and the 2018 act.

The analysis notes that, from a costs' perspective, the level of costs awarded to successful claimants in the District Court will be “considerably lower” than in the Circuit Court.

The lawyers add, however, that the District Court does not deliver written decisions, which could make it more difficult to discern trends in the assessment of such claims.

‘Ongoing role’ for superior courts

The Arthur Cox note says the courts remain the central avenue for redress in data-breach assessments, despite a suggestion from the court in the Kaminski case that alternative dispute-resolution may be appropriate.

“While this legislative amendment brings a welcome additional avenue of redress for data-protection claims, we anticipate an ongoing and prominent role for the superior courts in this area, not least in the context of collective redress,” the lawyers state.

They point to the Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers Act 2023, which has not yet been commenced.

This provides that the High Court will have jurisdiction to hear representative actions brought on behalf of consumers for alleged infringement of their rights under relevant enactments – including the Data Protection Act 2018.

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