Keller Postman UK Limited (Keller Postman), has threatened data protection (and other claims) against PFEW, on behalf of a group of our members. Keller Postman allege that certain members have suffered significant distress due to the cyber incidents and should be paid compensation.
What claims have been threatened?
Keller Postman allege PFEW breached certain obligations (under the GDPR and/or by 'misusing' private information) which in turn caused those members to suffer distress.
We will upload copies of any legal documents which are publicly available onto this webpage.
Do the claims have legal merit?
PFEW does not believe the threatened claims to have any merit for two reasons:
How much money is being claimed?
Keller Postman has not specified how much money is being claimed.
The possible costs to PFEW (which is a not-for-profit organisation operating on subscription fees consist) of the following:
1. The potential compensation being sought by Keller Postman's clients.
2. Keller Postman's legal fees, which Keller Postman would seek to recover from PFEW if its clients were successful in any litigation. We anticipate that this would run into several million pounds.
3. PFEW’s own legal defence costs.
The potential impact of these claims on the services that PFEW provides to its members and membership fees is set out here.
Keller Postman's conduct of the claims
Keller Postman is a law firm specialising in litigation and in particular group action litigation. It is a profit-making law firm and operating on a "no win, no fee" basis. In order to make money from the litigation, Keller Postman would need to take a cut of any damages that it successfully obtains on behalf of its clients.
In order to fully benefit from this model, Keller Postman needs to attract as many clients as possible across a wide range of claims. The more clients it has, the more it will earn in the event that the claims succeed. A large proportion of its claimed costs are the administrative costs incurred in onboarding new clients.
We are concerned that Keller Postman has said that the incidents have had a much more serious impact on personal data than we believe the evidence shows. They have also stated that PFEW need to act to improve security systems in spite of the fact that we have made investments in improving our systems.
Whilst PFEW is the first to accept that being subject to the cyber incidents was serious, leading, independent, forensic cyber experts confirmed, after a thorough investigation, that it is highly unlikely that any personal data was accessed or downloaded by the attackers.
Current status and key documents
Keller Postman have now applied for a "Group Litigation Order" (GLO) in the High Court. The application for a GLO, filed on 24 October 2022, is a procedural step requiring court approval.
The GLO procedure is extremely time-consuming and expensive – particularly the administrative process of onboarding thousands of clients before it is clear whether or not they have a viable claim. We consider that there are more cost-effective ways in which Keller Postman could have brought this litigation. We will therefore be contesting the application by Keller Postman for a GLO.
Keller Postman recently, on behalf of its clients, applied for a blanket anonymity order to keep the identity of members bringing the claims secret. The normal position is that English proceedings are conducted 'in public', in the interests of open justice.
We noted that the order obtained was based on witness evidence that included a number of false statements concerning the personal circumstances of certain members. We raised this with Keller Postman, and they voluntarily corrected their application and sought an amended order.
An amended order has now been made by the court such that members will be named in any action they bring against PFEW but their home addresses will be kept confidential.
PFEW would not object to any individual member who applied for anonymity on a sound legal basis, as is consistent with our wider approach to supporting anonymity in appropriate cases.