More than 200 employees and former employees of members of parliament have lost their bid for anonymity in a claim against parliament’s standards watchdog over a data breach. 

In Various Claimants v Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, The Honourable Mr Justice Nicklin heard that 216 individuals wished to bring a claim against the authority over a 2017 leak of personal information on the web. Before proceeding they sought an order granting permission to withhold their names and addresses from the claim form, arguing that disclosure of their identities would undermine the purpose of their claim and imperil their safety.

Rejecting the application, Nicklin J said the claimants’ argument was a 'novel one', but would have the effect of granting anonymity to 'most if not all' data-breach claims.   

To the claim that disclosure of identities might put individuals at risk, the judge said that no credible evidence of threats had been put forward. In any case, 'The civil justice system and the principles of open justice cannot be calibrated upon the risk of irrational actions of a handful of people engaging in what would be likely to amount to criminal behaviour.'

The judge noted that the court does not usually provide an additional remedy for the distress caused to the claimant in pursuing a case. 'A claimant in a personal injury claim is not entitled to any additional damages as a result of being caused upset and suffering as a result having to relive a possibly traumatic injury in the course of litigation or by being publicly identified in the proceedings,’ he said. He quoted Lord Sumption’s comment that such collateral impact ’is part of the price to be paid for open justice and the freedom of the press to report fairly and accurately on judicial proceedings held in public’.

However he said that the court would adopt measures, where justified, to protect confidential information in the proceedings. 


Jonathan Barnes QC, instructed by JMW Solicitors, appeared for the intended claimants; Zac Sammour, instructed by DLA Piper, for the intended defendants.