Hiscox found not guilty on three counts after it was alleged to have broken data protection laws

A judge has cleared Hiscox of breaching data protection laws, following what is believed to be one of the first cases of its kind.

The insurer was charged with three offences under the 1998 data protection act, in a case brought against it by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), as reported by the Financial Times.

Hiscox allegedly required policyholder,  Irfan Hussain to provide information on criminal convictions before it would pay out a claim for the loss of a £30,000 watch.

Hiscox denied the allegations.

Hussain was a key witness to the case at Southwark Crown Court, but the trial was halted when he became ill.

ICO offered no evidence in the case, will not be seeking a re-trial.

Hiscox has therefore been awarded a not guilty verdict on all three counts.

Jeremy Pinchin, group claims director at Hiscox said: “We have been found not guilty of all charges brought by the ICO. This case was always about our attempt to verify the validity of a single household insurance claim. We co-operated fully with the ICO throughout the investigation and we are very proud of our claims paying history.” 

An ICO spokesperson said: “The ICO has formally offered no evidence in the criminal prosecution of Hiscox Underwriting Limited for alleged breaches of s56(2) of the Data Protection Act 1998. This is due to serious health issues affecting a key prosecution witness.

”The ICO is naturally disappointed in this outcome, particularly as we felt this case, which concerned a key area of data protection and the rights of individuals, was an appropriate prosecution to bring. However, we accept that the health and personal welfare of the individual concerned must come first.”