Solicitor Wins Unique Breach of Privacy Payout

A solicitor who was deeply upset when her private emails were accessed without her authority during a hunt for evidence in the context of arbitration proceedings has won a substantial damages payout after launching a unique breach of privacy claim.

The woman was in dispute with a law firm in which she had for many years been an equity partner until her departure. The firm instructed solicitors to represent it in the ensuing arbitration. She objected to the latter searching her email account on the basis that it contained legally privileged and sensitive personal information.

A number of searches of her account were, however, carried out by the solicitors and it subsequently emerged that hundreds of her personal emails had been accessed, including private communications with her husband and her own legal advisers. She launched proceedings against the solicitors for misuse of private information and breach of confidence, including breach of her human right to respect for her privacy.

The facts of the case emerged during a High Court hearing as the solicitors agreed to a settlement of the woman’s claim. As well as giving certain undertakings, they agreed to pay her a substantial sum in damages and her legal costs. In those circumstances, she viewed her rights as having been vindicated.