What Constitutes Loss Or Damage Under The Singapore PDPA

Published date30 November 2022
Subject MatterPrivacy, Data Protection
Law FirmGlobal Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA)
AuthorMs Denise Mirandah (Mirandah Asia)

In this landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal ("SGCA") clarified the scope of the right of private action under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 ("PDPA"). A private action is available to a victim who suffers emotional damage due to his or her personal data being misused.

The SGCA overturned the decision below and held that emotional distress is enough to amount to "loss or damage" for a right of private action under the PDPA. Conversely, a mere loss of control of personal data cannot amount to such "loss or damage".

Procedural history

Mr. Bellingham had accessed personal information that belonged to Mr. Reed, who was a client of Mr. Bellingham's previous employers. Having joined a rival company, Mr. Bellingham informed Mr. Reed of his awareness of Mr. Reed's investments in consultation with his previous employers and proposed other options. Mr. Bellingham did not reassure Mr. Reed about how he would safeguard the personal information that he had accessed.

When a private action was brought against Mr. Bellingham, the District Court granted Mr. Reed an injunction and decreed that Mr. Bellingham commit to destroy such personal information.

Mr. Bellingham successfully appealed to the High Court, on the basis that emotional distress and the loss of control of Mr. Reed's personal data were not enough to constitute "loss or damage" for the purpose of a right of private action under the PDPA.

The SGCA's decision

On appeal, the SGCA held...

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