Nigel Shepherd, a partner at the family law firm Mills & Reeve, revealed that a married woman had contacted after discovering her partner’s details among the millions of leaked accounts.
He told The Times: “If someone finds out if their partner is set up on a site which exists wholly for facilitating adultery, it’s hardly surprising they are taking advice about it.”
Denise Knowles, a Relate counsellor, said the leak had brought up “lots of difficult emotions” for those affected. “Even if you haven’t been directly affected, the coverage may have prompted you to start questioning your own relationship,” she said.
Internet user who created searchable databases of the information saw their websites crash within minutes of going live.
Experts have warned that Ashley Madison faces a slew of civil claims from subscribers who blame them for the data breach.
The firm charged around £12 for a service in which it promised to remove a user’s personal data from its servers but the leak exposed flaws in its data protection policies.
Luke Scanlon, technology lawyer at Pinsent Masons, said: “The interesting thing about this incident is that recent court decisions in the UK have been leaning towards the view that a claim can be brought when no financial loss occurs but where a person experiences distress as a result of an data breach.
“In the case of Ashley Madison, which is reported has 1.2million subscribers in the UK alone, if each were to try to claim for £1000 in compensation Ashley Madison could see itself incurring costs of up to £1.2 billion. Even if claims for distress in this case are modest, the sheer volume of data breached and individuals affected in this attack could have a critical impact on the company.
“This event reinforces the need for businesses to not just think about what is mandatory by law in information security, but what is best practice.”
The latest cache of material to be leaked is said to contain information taken from the email account of Noel Biderman, chief executive of Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent company.
The 14 gigabytes data dump has been uploaded to a part of the internet known as the “dark web” which enables the hackers to cover their tracks and evade the authorities.