Insurance firm had private investigator report on client

Ray Managh and Saurya Cherfi

A MAN whose insurance firm had a copy of a private investigator's report on him, has been awarded €15,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Michael Collins had asked the court to assess compensation against FBD Insurance, which had earlier been found by the Data Protection Commissioner to have breached the Data Protection Acts.

It was the first time the Circuit Court had been asked to assess damages in this area of data protection law.

The commissioner had held that FBD failed to provide full documentation to Mr Collins relating to a claim he made about a stolen work van.

FBD had refused to pay out on the claim because Collins allegedly failed to disclose a previous criminal conviction.

Mr Collins, of Mellowes Park, Finglas, Dublin, had challenged FBD's contention that the policy form contained any inquiry about criminal convictions.


He said the form had sought information relevant only to road traffic convictions. He had asked the company for a copy of the proposal form which had been refused and he had gone to the Data Protection Commissioner seeking its production.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard that officials of the Data Protection Commission had gone to FBD's offices at FBD House, Bluebell, Dublin, where they had been told the proposal form had been lost.

They had been provided with other documentation relating to Mr Collins's file and had discovered a private investigator's report on him.

Judge Linnane was told the investigator reported Collins -- a member of the Travelling community -- had been convicted of a criminal offence for which he had been sentenced.

District Court inquiries later revealed he had not served any time for a conviction of theft.

Michael O'Higgins, counsel for FBD, said the insurance company accepted that it had breached the Data Protection Acts in having failed to provide all documents to Lawlor Partners, Mr Collins's solicitors.

He said FBD's position was that there had been gross non- compliance by Mr Collins, who had an obligation to act in "utmost good faith" in disclosing relevant information.