The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has breached data protection laws, the UK's data watchdog has ruled.

This occurred due to how the DVLA passed on motorists’ personal details to private parking firms.

As a result one expert believes the organisation could potentially face compensation claims from motorists.

The Guardian reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has decided the DVLA “was not using the correct lawful basis to disclose vehicle keeper information”.

However, the government agency – which holds more than 49m driver records – has escaped enforcement action after the watchdog concluded the breach was “a technical infringement of the law”.

News and Star: The DVLA was ruled to not be using the correct lawful basis to disclose vehicle keeper information (PA)The DVLA was ruled to not be using the correct lawful basis to disclose vehicle keeper information (PA)

It said the DVLA was still allowed to disclose people’s information to firms pursuing drivers for unpaid parking fines but that it needed to rely on another part of the legislation for doing this.

The Guardian reported: "Parking firms pursuing motorists will often approach the DVLA to get hold of their addresses. Under the law, the organisation is permitted to disclose this information where there is “reasonable cause” to do so – for example, where it is requested for the purposes of recovering unpaid parking charges."

A DVLA spokesperson said on the ruling: “There is no doubt, as confirmed by the ICO in its published opinion, that the release of data to private parking firms is lawful.

“ICO’s opinion reflects a legal technicality around processing conditions, and also acknowledges it will make no difference to the outcome of data sharing. This has no bearing on the release of data nor does it affect customers in any way.”

How could those with parking tickets potentially get compensation?

The parking expert and author Scott Dixon said: “By using the wrong lawful basis, it cannot be disputed that the DVLA has breached the UK GDPR Data Protection Act 2018.

“Motorists have suffered a serious detriment by the DVLA’s unlawful actions … This is not a technical infringement. This ruling contradicts what the ICO says within their own guidelines for organisations to adhere to.

“I believe motorists are entitled to compensation from the DVLA, as they have suffered detriment as a result of the DVLA using the wrong lawful basis and wrongly using their powers within the scope of the UK GDPR Data Protection Act 2018.”

On the ICO website it says that the law gives people the right to claim compensation from an organisation if they have suffered “damage” – which could include “distress” – as a result of it breaching data legislation.

Information on how to make a claim can be found on the ICO website here.