The Courts Service v. DPC (Notice Party: PM) - February 2020
Type of action and Venue
Statutory appeal, Circuit Court
Date of Judgment Order
6 February 2020
By decision dated 13 June 2018, made under the Data Protection Acts, 1988 & 2003 (“the DP Acts”), the Data Protection Commissioner held that, by publishing a judgment identifying the Notice Party by name, in circumstances where the High Court had earlier directed that the Notice Party’s name should not be published, the Courts Service (1) failed to discharge its obligation to take appropriate security measures against unauthorised disclosure of the Notice Party’s personal data, contrary to Section 2(1)(d) of the DP Acts; (2) processed the Notice Party’s personal data (and sensitive personal data) without a lawful basis under Sections 2A and 2B of the DP Acts.
By judgment pronounced on 6 February 2020, the Circuit Court refused an appeal by the Court Service, the Courts Service having sought orders setting aside the judgment and the DPC’s determination that the Courts Service was a “data controller” for the purposes of the DP Acts.
The Circuit Court did, however, limit the time period referable to the Courts Service’s breaches of Sections 2A and 2B of the DP Acts to the period 12 May 2014 to 15 May 2014. The Court also set aside the DPC’s finding that the Courts Service had failed to discharge its (security) obligations under Section 2(1)(d) of the DP Acts.
No costs were ordered as between the Courts Service and the DPC. The Courts Service was directed to pay two-thirds of the Notice Party’s costs with the balance to be paid by the DPC.
Note that reporting restrictions put in place by Order of Judge Linnane dated 26 November 2018 in relation to the identity of the Notice Party remain in force by order of the High Court.
Current Status of Case
The Judgment and Order of the Circuit Court is the subject of an appeal to the High Court on certain points of law, brought by The Courts Service.
Separately, the DPC has also applied to vary the Judgment and Order of the Circuit Court insofar as the Circuit Court allowed the appeal in relation to Section 2(1)(d) of the DP Acts and imposed a temporal limitation on the Courts Services’ breach of Sections 2A and 2B. The DPC is also appealing against the Circuit Court’s orders for costs.