More than 5,500 Morrisons staff are suing their employer for damages after personal information was leaked online, in the first ever data leak class action suit.
The trial at London’s High Court started today, with the claimants arguing the supermarket giant failed to adequately protect the data which was leaked by a rogue employee.
Former Morrisons auditor Andrew Skelton was jailed for eight years in 2015 for fraud after leaking details of almost 100,000 staff because of a “personal grievance” against the company, according to reports from his original sentencing.
The trial will only decide whether or not Morrisons is liable for damages. There will then be a second “quantum” trial to decide the size of damages if it is found liable.
The case is being made as a group litigation order, which allows multiple similar claims to be judged in the same case, in a similar manner to US class actions. However, claimants have to opt in to a group litigation order, rather than opting out as in the US.
Jonathan Barnes is the barrister acting for the group. He was instructed by solicitors at Manchester-headquartered law firm JMW.
Barnes told the High Court judge today, according to the BBC: “We say that, having entrusted the information to Morrisons, we should now be compensated for the upset and distress caused by what we say was a failure to keep safe that information.”