A middle man who sold illegally obtained details to claims management companies has been ordered to pay more than £108,000 in damages.
In Aviva Insurance Ltd v Oliver, His Honour Judge Eyre QC said the defendant David Oliver knew he was being provided with information which was obtained wrongfully. The judge upheld liability claims from Aviva and ordered that Oliver pay the costs of a team set up to investigate the misuse of policyholders’ data.
The court heard that an Aviva employee had accessed its computer system in 2013 and 2014 to obtain the personal details of policyholders who had reported accidents where they were not at fault. The employee then sold these details to Oliver who in turn sold them on to claims management companies.
Oliver originally worked through a Manchester-based company before selling the data on his own account. It was claimed by the employee that he received at least £370,000 from the operation.
In January 2017, Oliver pleaded guilty to an offence under the Data Protection Act and was fined and made subject to a confiscation order. Aviva then started civil proceedings against him the same year, alleging breach of confidence, conspiracy and an inducement of the employee to breach her contractual obligations.
The judge said there was no dispute the information in question was confidential, nor was it suggested the employee’s conduct was anything other than wrongful. The crucial question was whether Oliver knew this – if he did then liability would follow.
Oliver said he did not know his contact selling the data worked for an insurance company and he genuinely believed this was information she was entitled to sell. He had been assured the information was legitimately obtained from a credit hire company or recovery garage but he was not provided with any more details of the source. He claimed to be new to the claims management industry but he understood the market involved data frequently sold on through a chain of buyers.
The judge found Oliver knew what the Aviva employee was doing and that he had obtained confidential information improperly. His use of the information was clearly unauthorised and was a breach of the obligation of confidence. The Aviva inquiry was the result of his actions, so he should pay the costs of it.