It has been found that third level student’s personal data is at high risk of being breached. Universities and ITs have an especially high risk of data leaks due to the sheer volume of personal data the institutes must process each year. The prevention of data breaches can be a difficult issue for institutions to manage due to the large volume of staff, and network systems that have to be trained or secured.

Student information stored on systems in universities can be of a sensitive nature such as PPSN numbers, along with banking details make this information highly valuable to criminals. And, because of this, hackers are deliberating targeting educational institutes worldwide.

83% of data breaches happen by unauthorised disclosure of people’s personal information. In the majority of cases, this disclosure is accidental — for example, someone emails information to an incorrect recipient, or documents get mislaid.

In other cases of data breaches, information may get leaked because of deliberate theft. This could be the result of a laptop being stolen, or files taken, or a cybersecurity attack. Disclosures such as these are becoming increasingly common. 

Three major breaches of student’s data in Ireland:

Since the GDPR regulation came into force on the 25th of May 2018, there have been three significant data breaches of student information:

Aug 2018, it was identified that there was a serious flaw in the Student Leap Card system (The student discount travel card). This error allowed college agents to view students personal information such as phone numbers, email address, home address etc.

November 2018, NUI Galway confirmed that the institute suffered a data breach when a USB stick went missing. The stick contained confidential information of 100s of students. It is thought that the USB contained names of around 5% of the student body, their student numbers and exam results. 

October 2019, The Institute of Technology Tralee apologised for a data leak. The breach involved an Excel document that contained personal information of several hundred students. The document was accidentally sent out in an informational email, to a group of students participating in the ITs graduation ceremony. 

Institutions must take steps to help prevent a data breach from occurring, major breaches are a costly and serious issue for universities. When a breach occurs the University or IT must notify all potentially affected students and that the incident must be reported to the Data Protection Commissioner.

If you’ve been affected by any of the above data breaches, talk to us, and we can advise you of your next steps. 





data breach

Users of popular graphic design company Canva have been exposed to a data breach. The cyber attack was by the same hacker responsible for the recent Zynga games attack Gnosticplayers, who earlier this year put the credentials of 620 million accounts from 16 websites up for sale. Canva is advising users to change their login password after the company’s database was reportedly compromised in the hacking attack.

The attack targeted usernames and email addresses, affecting up to 139 million users globally. Passwords were also obtained, but Canva assured users that passwords have been “salted and hashed with bcrypt,” meaning they remain unreadable by third parties. The platform recommends that users change their passwords as a precaution.

Canva is known to provide a wide range of free (or low-cost) creative tools and stock designs, making it an attractive platform for small marketing teams and novice designers.  Those who use (or have used) Canva should be wary of the security breach and change passwords before diving back in.

  • Canva said there is currently no indication that user designs were stolen by the hackers, and that credit card details remain safe and “confidential.”
  • Those using Facebook or Google to login to Canva were reportedly not affected by the breach.

If you use Canva, you can check on a site called Have I Been Pwned: enter your login email, and this will show if your account has been compromised in a data breach. If the breach that you are pwned in occurred after the GDPR regulation came into force on the 25th of May 2018, you may be entitled to compensation and you should seek legal advice regarding this.


Road Safety

The dark nights will soon be upon us and the autumn and winter weather can make driving even more treacherous. No one ever expects to be in an accident but unfortunately, they can happen. What can you do to protect yourself safe and those who travel with you in the aftermath of an accident? There are a few practical points we can all follow:

  • In the immediate aftermath, make sure you stop your car as soon as possible. It is an offence not to. Turn off the engine and switch on your hazard lights.
  • Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries.
  • Call the Gardai or an ambulance immediately if anyone is hurt or if the road is blocked.
  • Stay calm and take some deep breaths. Most people will feel shaken after an accident – even if it is only minor.
  • You should exchange insurance details if another vehicle has been involved. If you suspect the driver does not have insurance or is drunk – call the Gardai.

From a legal/insurance perspective, you should note:

  • Make and model and car registration details of all vehicles involved in the collision.
  • If you have a camera/phone to hand. Take photos of the scene and the vehicles involved. As well as close shots, you should take some wider shots so that the layout of the road and the scene can be understood later if you need to instruct a solicitor or to assist your insurers.
  • If you have a dash camera, you should make the footage available to Gardai, your solicitors/insurers to assist in the investigations.
  • Note the time and date of the accident and the weather conditions.
  • You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident to report it.

If you have been in an accident, you can contact Gibson & Associates Solicitors to assist you in resolving the matter in a stress-free manner.

data breach

A Pakistani hacker who previously made headlines earlier this year for selling almost a billion user records stolen from nearly 45 popular online services has now claimed to have hacked the popular mobile social game company Zynga Inc.

With a current market capitalization of over $5 billion, Zynga is one of the world’s most successful social game developers with a collection of hit online games—including FarmVille, Words With Friends, Zynga Poker, Mafia Wars, and Café World—with over a billion players worldwide.

Going by the online alias Gnosticplayers, the serial hacker told The Hacker News that this time, he managed to breach “Words With Friends,” a popular Zynga-developed word puzzle game, and unauthorisedly access a massive database of more than 218 million users.

According to the hacker, the data breach affected all Android and iOS game players who installed and signed up for the ‘Words With Friends’ game on and before 2nd September this year.

In a statement published over a week ago, Zynga admitted the data breach, revealing that the “account login information for certain players of Draw Something and Words With Friends that may have been accessed,” though the company did not reveal the number of affected users.

“We recently discovered that certain player account information may have been illegally accessed by outside hackers.” reads the statement.

Based on a sample data Gnosticplayers shared with The Hacker News, the stolen users’ information includes their:

  • Names
  • Email addresses
  • Login IDs
  • Hashed passwords, SHA1 with salt
  • Password reset token (if ever requested)
  • Phone numbers (if provided)
  • Facebook ID (if connected)
  • Zynga account ID

Besides this, the hacker also claims to have hacked data belonging to some other Zynga-developed games, including Draw Something and the discontinued OMGPOP game, which allegedly exposed clear text passwords for more than 7 million users.

If you are concerned about a data breach, talk to our team today, you may be entitled to compensation.

High Court

Gibson & Associates Solicitors acted in a case that resulted in the High Court writing off the debts of a retired Garda, and his wife Jean Errity, a civil engineer. The couple had debts including €6.1m owed to Ulster Bank, €419,000 to Permanent TSB, €150,000 to a building company called MOF Construction Ltd, and €160,000 to Pepper Finance.

As part of the agreement, the couple will keep their home and continue to make mortgage repayments on the property. To fund the personal insolvency agreement, the couple will have to sell off two investment properties. Other family members are contributing €40,000 towards the debt. The court was asked to approve the agreement as the couple’s creditors would not be better off if the couple filed bankruptcy.

Gibson & Associates litigation team acted on behalf of the couple, this is the firms’ second recent success in a similar litigation case. Financial institutions that were creditors to the couple argued against the agreement, but the Judge claimed that a bankruptcy situation would not benefit the lenders.

Read more about the case in the media

The Irish Times 

Medical Negligence

Did you know that the first 5 months of 2019, €108 million has been paid out in medical negligence in Ireland? It’s a worrying statistic. And it’s claimed to be driven by current pressures put onto medical care by staff shortages, funding, hospital overcrowding and general working conditions. Of these payouts, more than half of these were related to medical negligence in childbirth.

In the US medical error is the third leading cause of death after heart attacks and cancer. It is a growing concern that we could follow suit in Ireland. 

What is Medical Negligence

Medical negligence is referred to as an action or lack of proper standard of care by a health professional that causes unnecessary pain, suffering, distress to a patient. Sometimes, there can be a fine line between what is considered medical negligence and what possibly is an unfortunate result from a medical treatment.  So, there could be many factors looked at to determine if there was a medical error. Here are a few of the most commonly occurring medical negligence incident types:

Birth Injuries: these can, unfortunately, result in life changing implications for the child, birth injury claims cases tend to have high compensation amounts awarded, to help with the care of the affected child. 

Misdiagnoses: especially cancer misdiagnosis, and consequent delays in treatment. 

Surgery error: such as a result of a cosmetic procedure gone wrong. 

Medication error: this could be a failure to prescribe a required medication, such as an antibiotic for a life threatening infection, or simply prescribing the wrong mediation that results in a serious injury the patient.

As soon as you suspect an error may have occurred, you should request to speak another medical professional, especially a doctor if available. It’s important to prioritise your health in this situation, especially to limit any damage, the other doctor should take immediate action to correct any errors or mistakes that have been made. 

What actions should you take:

The most important action you can take to prove medical negligence is to request your medical records. These records will include your medical history, list of mediations, any tests carried out and a recording of symptoms, this is highly important in cases of medication errors and misdiagnosis.

This information alone may be enough to prove a medical malpractice; especially if the opinion of another medical professional is sought, and they verify that the care was substandard, or that the injury in question as a result of that care/or lack of care. 

Photographs of the injury could provide useful if you’re in a situation where it’s possible to take a photograph of the injury. A common example of this would be a cosmetic procedure that has gone wrong. You should also take personal notes i.e a description of the injury, dates and times, names of those involved, hospital or clinic location etc.

Maybe you had close family or friends that witnessed the negligence event, for example, you may have been given medical results that misdiagnosed a condition. Or maybe, it’s you that has witnessed medical negligence to your family, an example of this occurrence could be in a nursing home where you noticed careless mishandling of the patient; read more about nursing home neglect here

How to help prove negligence incident?

There must be evidence that a doctor/patient relationship existed, this can be verified in the form of medical receipts for treatment. You should always keep prescription receipts, in case you have to prove a medication error. 

If you know other people that have been injured by the same clinic or practitioner, this can make your case against them much stronger and easier to prove. The media is a good place to check for other cases or complaints against the clinic, or medical practitioner. 

Reporting medical negligence:

There are various health and social regulatory bodies that promote a high standard of care and will investigate any reports of misconduct.

A complaint against a medical professional should be brought to the attention of the relevant regulatory body. So, let’s just say that you want to make a complaint about a doctor, you would report the incident to the Medical Council, a guide on how to make a complaint can be found on their website.

Now, you have a complaint made and medical reports to back your claim up, what next? If you are injured and it’s due to the actions of someone else, you are entitled to seek compensation, now is a good time to consultant a Medical Negligence Solicitor

* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.”


Gibson & Associates joins Ulster Bank for mortgage events in Letterkenny

 Letterkenny-based legal specialist Gibson & Associates Solicitors will join Ulster Bank at a series of upcoming events aimed at helping people in the area with switching mortgages or advice on buying and selling a home.

The solicitors, which is one of the only solicitors in Letterkenny with a specialist property department, is calling on local residents to attend the events for free property advice.

Three property law specialists will attend the events, which will take place during opening times on 17th and 24th August at Ulster Bank’s Letterkenny branch, to offer practical tips and demystify the legal process associated with buying and selling a home.

Fionnuala Power, Head of Property Department at Gibson Associates says: “Buying or selling a home is an extremely exciting milestone in life, but the process it entails can often be confusing and stressful for someone who has never embarked upon it before.

“This is why we are thrilled to join forces with Ulster Bank for these events, to offer the people of Donegal practical advice related to home purchase and sale and empower them to take the next steps in their life.

“Whether you’re a first-time buyer or moving further up the property ladder, we are on hand with advice and to answer any questions you may have about this often long-winded and complicated process.”

Gibson & Associates’ Head of Property Fionnuala Power will be joined at the event by solicitors Sorcha Duffy and Celine Clerkin to discuss the following matters:

  • Buying/selling a property
  • Switching mortgage deals
  • Advice for first-time buyers
  • Change of ownership

Sorcha Duffy says: “We know just how stressful buying or selling a house can be, no matter how many times you may have done before. However, by arming yourself with as much information about the process as possible, you are more likely to have realistic expectations.

“Through these events with Ulster Bank, we want to give buyers and sellers the tools they require to make informed decisions about the conveyancing process.”

Gibson & Associates is a legal firm based in Dublin, Ireland, with an office in Letterkenny and associates across the country, which provides a wide range of legal services to both individuals and businesses.

Event Venue: Ulster Bank, Letterkenny

Date: 17th & 24th of Aug

Time: From 10.00am

Retirement Visa

Why you should retire to Ireland

There are probably already reasons why you are considering retiring to Ireland such as family ties, or maybe because it’s a good base for exploring the rest of Europe, or the fact that Ireland is less of a culture shock, especially with English being the main spoken language. 

But, there are other good reasons why you should retire in Ireland; the Island of Ireland is widely covered by rural countryside, so is a great place to keep active if you love hiking, golf and many other outdoor activities.  Although it does rain quite a lot, we don’t have weather extremities, and Ireland is a very safe country to live in. Overall, Ireland is a GREAT country to come to retire!

How to retire to Ireland

So, you’ve never lived in Ireland before? There will be certain conditions that will make getting permission to retire here easier. If you were born in Ireland, married to an Irish citizen, or have Irish parents/grandparents you probably already have your Irish passport, (if not you can find out more here) as you are entitled to Irish citizenship via descent. And you won’t need to worry about an Irish Visa. The same applies if you’re EU born or you’ve EU born parents. This will make moving to Ireland relatively easy. Also, UK citizens also have the right to move to Ireland without any conditions or restrictions. 


But, if you are non-EAA (outside of the EU) you must apply first for an entry Visa to Ireland. Stay’s longer than 3 months require a Visa (permission to remain). But if you’re from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand you do not need a Visa to enter the country, you will be given a Visit Visa upon entering the country which lasts for 90 days. 

What makes getting a Visa easier

If you are in one of the countries that require a Visa, you should apply for your Visa before coming to Ireland. The Visa required is called a Stamp 0 Visa. You can come to Ireland on a Stamp 0 Visa for a short stay. Conditions for permission on Stamp 0:

  • You can come in on a Stamp 0 if you have relatives in Ireland that you are dependent on.
  • You will need to have a pension and/or financial resources behind you. The threshold is around €50,000 per person per year, you might also be required to show that you can access emergency funds if needs be (a good guide sum is the average price of a house in the US, $250,000).
  • You need to register with the local immigration officer on your arrival. 

Living in Ireland

Choosing where to live in Ireland should not be too difficult as Ireland is a small Island, but beware public transport links are not great in some locations. Dublin is the capital, but is quite expensive, especially for renting and purchasing a property. Go out a little further from the city to surrounding counties for better prices.

If you like the outdoors live you should consider living along the Wild Atlantic Way, (west coast Ireland) the scenery really is spectacular. And housing prices are much more reasonable. 

Other points to keep in mind — healthcare is not free in Ireland, so you should take out insurance. And once you are over 66 years old you will be entitled to a free bus pass.

If you don’t feel comfortable filling out any of the Visa application forms, contact our immigration team they will be happy to take care of this for you.

Bankruptcy is one of four debt solutions available to people who find themselves in the position where they are unable to pay their debts, as the debts fall due. And do not see themselves being able to do so, in the next few years.

How to know if Bankruptcy is the right debt solution?

Bankruptcy is a formal, High Court process for people in debt over €20,000. Before you consider applying for bankruptcy you must first have explored the alternative solutions to bankruptcy which are contained in the Personal Insolvency Act 2012.  A personal Insolvency Practitioner can help you identify if bankruptcy is the correct option for you.

What are the main consequences?

The ownership of an insolvent person’s property transfers to the Official Assignee in Bankruptcy to be sold by him for the benefit of those to whom the individual owes money, his/her creditors. When the person’s property is sold the Official Assignee will make sure that the proceeds are shared out fairly among creditors and any outstanding debt will be written off.

Where a debt is written off it means that the balance due and owing is no longer being pursued. Where a debt is written down it means that the total debt due and owing has been reduced by agreement.

Bankruptcy will normally last for one year after which you will be discharged. The term can be extended if you do not fully cooperate or fail to disclose all necessary details. After discharge from bankruptcy, all your assets that existed at the time of your bankruptcy continue to be owned by the Official Assignee until sold.

Family Home

In bankruptcy, your interest or share in the family home will transfer to the Official Assignee. While it is a possibility, you should not assume you will lose your family home. You may be able to agree on a schedule of mortgage payments with your bank and Official Assignee. These payments would have to be factored into the calculation of your Reasonable Living Expenses as approved by the Official Assignee.

If your home is in negative equity (the value of the home is less than the outstanding mortgage) there is no immediate reason for the Official Assignee to seek to sell.  If the home is in positive equity (the value of the home exceeds the amount of the outstanding mortgage) the Official Assignee will first seek to sell what has become his share in the family home to your spouse or civil partner. The Official Assignee cannot sell the family home without first seeking and obtaining permission from the High Court. If the Official Assignee has decided not to sell your home within 3 years of your bankruptcy adjudication, ownership may automatically transfer back to you, unless agreed otherwise.

You are entitled to keep a vehicle of a reasonable value if it is a necessity. In bankruptcy, all of your assets are transferred to the Official Assignee with the exception of essential assets up to a value of €6,000

You can usually continue in your current employment or seek a new job while you are bankrupt. There are some professions that do not allow employees to continue in their employment once bankrupt so it is advisable to make enquiries to your professional/regulatory body in this regard.

You are still entitled to earn an income but the Official Assignee may request a contribution from your income for the benefit of your creditors. Such income payment orders last up to 3 years and are usually put in place once your bankruptcy begins.

Your bankruptcy could have consequences for your spouse or civil partner but it will depend on your particular circumstances. The Official Assignee takes over as landlord of any rented property you own and there is no break in the lease agreement for the tenant. If you are in business and stop trading due to bankruptcy your employees are entitled to claim statutory redundancy from the Department of Social Protection.

If your circumstances change during your period of bankruptcy you must tell the Official Assignee and the terms of your income payment order may be altered.

At Gibson & Associates, we have a dedicated experienced and empathetic team headed up by one of our Partners, Amanda Walsh, who ensures we tailor the service and advice we provide to clients seeking debt and insolvency advice to their specific needs. Amanda and her team have represented clients through bankruptcy and other insolvency solutions since the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 came into operation. We have acted for a variety of clients to include business people, married couples and individuals and helped them through one of the most difficult periods in their lives to the point where they resumed stress free lives again having lived for years with the burden of debt which affected both them and their loved ones.

Most recently, our team secured the first ever Circuit Court decision ( currently under appeal) which provided for a court approved debt for equity swap in respect of a client’s family home mortgage which will keep him in his home.

This article has been produced by Amanda Walsh, Gibson & Associates Solicitors and is intended as a general, introductory guide for insolvent debtors in relation to the availability of, and the process involved in seeking bankruptcy and is not providing legal advice. In addition, the Gibson & Associates Solicitors has no role in providing financial advice.


Controversial decision by High Court on Irish Naturalization Rules

Anyone that has applied for naturalisation to become an Irish Citizen and awaiting a decision, or is considering now applying should carefully consider the impact of the high court decision released Wednesday in the case of Roderick Jones who brought Judicial review proceedings against a decision of the Minister for Justice.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, nationals applying to naturalise as an Irish citizen must be legally resident in Ireland for at least five years out of the last nine, or in the case of those married to an Irish national they must be resident for three out of the last five.

As part of the residency test, the applicant must also prove they have been in “continuous residence” for the 12 months up to the day of the application being submitted.

Before this ruling, flexibility or ’discretion’ was always afforded to applications of up to 6 weeks absence in that 12 months period, meaning they could take a holiday or short breaks up to 6 weeks in total and it would not affect their application.

Mr Jones had his application rejected as he had been outside of Ireland for a period considerably longer than the unofficial 6 week discretionary period mostly work related travel and some holidays so his application was refused. He brought legal proceedings against the refusal and the outcome has had a significant impact on that previously discretionary period.

This has now dramatically been amended by the court to what appears to be an overtly strict interpretation of the legislation.

Judge Mr Justice Max Barrett has ruled that the definition of “continuous” in his opinion strictly applying the letter of the law as it is written in legislation is that an applicant must show a one-year period of residence in Ireland that is ‘unbroken, uninterrupted, connected throughout in space or time’, therefore he stated the Minister actually has no such ability to have any discretion for any absence.

In short, what he has effectively ruled is that an applicant must be in the state for the full 12 months leading to the application with no absences of any kind or duration. This in practical terms would mean even a short break outside of Ireland such as the annual family holiday to Spain, or even closer to home but sometimes people often overlook is a trip across the border to Northern Ireland to see the goings on in Portrush with the big golf open, possibly even the weekly shopping trip crossing the border could constitute a break in that continuous residence,  and upon return you would have to start the clock on building one year residence all over again.

It will be interesting to see how this development will now be impairment and applied to applications, will such short trips across the border count as breaking residence, generally for considering residence it is based on overnight stays, so one view would be that as long as any trip did not involve overnight stay, you were back at home that night then there is no break, another argument could simply mean you break your connection with Ireland once you leave its territory.

As you can see there are many issues that this decision now throws up and there are presently more questions than answers.

It would be easy to possibly criticize the Judge in the case for coming to this decision, that is now going to cause so much difficulty, in fact, many have, but what may seem unfair, the Judge has pointed out he is only applying the law upon reading the legislation.

We are hopeful the decision will be appealed to the Court of Appeal, or potentially if it is not appealed, or is and is unsuccessful, then it will have to be down to lobbying for a change in the law that then does give the Minister discretion.

Our advice is that those with outstanding application that has had any absence in the 12 months to the application will likely have their application placed on hold pending any appeal. This could, unfortunately, mean a significant delay in a decision being made.

A practical tip to those may be to now begin building their 12 months uninterrupted presence in Ireland and if by then there has been no change in the rules consider withdrawing your application and then re-applying as you will then have met the new strict rules of one years residence.

If their application is rejected there is a possibility of pursuing Judicial review proceedings and this is something we have spoken at length with our Barristers about.

For those considering now applying we would suggest you consider how the above ruling now affects you, review the last time you entered the country, count 12 months from that date.

If you are unsure about how this decision may affect you do not hesitate to get in touch with our Immigration team.

Denis McGettigan, Immigration Specialist, Gibson & Associates Solicitors.