AG Düsseldorf - 51 C 206/23

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AG Düsseldorf - 51 C 206/23
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Court: AG Düsseldorf (Germany)
Jurisdiction: Germany
Relevant Law: Article 12 GDPR
Article 12(6) GDPR
Article 15(1) GDPR
Article 15(2) GDPR
Article 15(3) GDPR
Article 82(1) GDPR
Decided: 17.08.2023
Published: 24.08.2023
National Case Number/Name: 51 C 206/23
European Case Law Identifier: ecli:DE:AGD:2023:0824.51C206.23.00
Appeal from:
Appeal to: Unknown
Original Language(s): German
Original Source: Justiz (in German)
Initial Contributor: Sainey Belle

A German court ordered a controller to pay €500 in damages to a data subject for refusing to respond to his access request under Article 15 GDPR. The controller argument that the data subject failed to prove his identity was rejected.

English Summary


The controller in this case is the owner of an online shop selling PC software, computer accessories and other items. On 29 June 2022, a data subject ordered €77 worth of items but did not make the payment. For this reason, the controller sought to engage a debt collection agency to enforce the payment, unsuccessfully. Hence the controller sued the data subject before the District Court of Düsseldorf (Amtsgericht Düsseldorf -AG Düsseldorf).

In the course of the same procedure, the data subject asked the controller to obtain access to his personal data pursuant to Article 15 GDPR and to receive a copy of his data under Article 15(3) GDPR. The controller did not fulfil the request of the data subject, who filed a counterclaim in order to obtain access to his personal data. The controller submitted that it could not respond to the access request, because the data subject failed to prove his identity and it also claimed that the counterclaim constituted an abuse of right by the data subject.

The data subject, thus asked the court to order the controller to comply with his request under Article 15 GDPR and to award him damages in the amount of at least €1,000 pursuant to Article 82 GDPR.


As regards the counterclaim of the data subject, the AG Düsseldorf held that the controller had no legitimate reason to refuse to comply with his access request.

The court clarified that the controller could not rely on the fact that the data subject failed to prove his identity. As a matter of fact, the court held that a controller may only ask for identification under Article 12(6) GDPR if there are reasonable doubts about the identity of the data subject, which could not be proven in this case.

Hence, the court held that the controller violated Article 15 GDPR and this gave rise to a right to compensation for non-material damages under Article 82(1) GDPR. In calculating the amount of immaterial damages due, the court held that this should not depend on how economically powerful the controller is, should not be punitive in nature nor have a deterrent effect. Also, the awarded damages should not constitute a source of income for the data subject, but should be merely compensatory. In addition to this, the court considered the fact that the controller is no longer processing personal data of the data subject, and it did not transmit the data to other third parties after the access request was made, hence no aggravating factor should be taken into account.

The court concluded that €500 was a reasonable amount for immaterial damages and ordered the controller to compensate the data subject and comply with his access request under Article 15 GDPR.


This decision is no longer relevant as recent case-law of the LAG Düsseldorf (Decision of 28.11.2023, judgment n. 3 Sa 285/23 reversing judgment n. 3 Ca 44/23) contradicts this view.

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English Machine Translation of the Decision

The decision below is a machine translation of the German original. Please refer to the German original for more details.

1 Facts:
2The plaintiff maintains, among other things, an online shop for PC software, computer accessories, printer cartridges, household and lifestyle items. In this case, the defendant bought 202 goods worth €76.93 on June 29th.
3He received the goods but did not pay for them - the plaintiff objected to the debit from his account.
4The plaintiff called in a debt collection company to enforce the claim without success.
5On December 19, 2022, the plaintiff applied for a reminder against the defendant with regard to the main claim as well as pre-trial costs in the form of reminder, information, bank chargeback and collection costs totaling €90.24.
6The defendant lodged a timely objection to the reminder notice served in accordance with the application.
7In the present proceedings, the plaintiff continues to pursue her previously asserted claim. She believes she is entitled to this.
8The plaintiff applies
9 order the defendant to pay the plaintiff €76.93 plus interest amounting to five percentage points above the base interest rate since July 29, 2022, as well as pre-trial costs totaling €90.24.
10The defendant applies
11to weigh the lawsuit
12The defendant objects to the main claim that he is entitled to higher claims against the plaintiff, which he is pursuing with the counterclaim.
13With regard to the additional claim, he raises objections on the basis and amount.
14The defendant has requested the plaintiff to provide comprehensive information about the data stored about him in accordance with Article 15 Paragraph 1 and 2 GDPR and also to provide a copy of all data in accordance with Article 15 Paragraph 3 Sentence 1 GDPR.
15 It is disputed between the parties whether he did this by email on December 23rd, 2022 or only on June 2nd, 2023.
16The plaintiff did not provide any information, so the defendant filed a counterclaim in response to the claims mentioned.
17The defendant files a counterclaim
18a. order the plaintiff to hand over to him a copy of all the data that she processes about him;
19b. order the plaintiff to provide him with information about which other companies she has transmitted his data to;
20c. to order the plaintiff to pay him monetary compensation, the amount of which is at the discretion of the court, but should not be less than 1,000.00 euros, as well as default interest of five percentage points above the base interest rate since the case was pending.
21The plaintiff applies
22 to dismiss the complaint.
23It makes the provision of information dependent on the defendant proving his identity.
24On the other hand, she is of the opinion that his behavior was abusive.
25For further details, reference is made to the content of the file and the written submissions exchanged between the parties.
26 Reasons for the decision:
271. The lawsuit is admissible and, to the extent stated, also well-founded.
28a. The plaintiff is entitled to payment of an amount of €76.93 from the defendant in accordance with Section 433 Paragraph 2 of the German Civil Code (BGB).
29The defendant purchased a USB power bank and an ink cartridge for a printer plus shipping costs from the plaintiff in her online shop on June 29, 2023 for a total price of €76.93
30He did not pay the purchase price. The defendant did not raise any substantiated objections regarding the reason or amount regarding the origin of the claim.
31b. The interest claim arises from the aspect of the delay, §§ 286 Paragraph 1, Paragraph 3 Sentence 1 BGB, the amount of interest follows from §§ 247 Paragraph 2, 288 Paragraph 1 BGB.
32c. The plaintiff is also entitled to payment of pre-litigation costs in the amount of €76.44 in accordance with Sections 280 Paragraph 2 and 286 Paragraph 1 BGB. It is consistent with the case law of the Federal Court of Justice that the perpetrator must reimburse the costs of legal proceedings that, from the injured party's point of view, were necessary and expedient to exercise his rights. The ex ante view of a reasonable, economically minded person is decisive. There are no excessive requirements. It depends on how the expected settlement of the damage event appears from the perspective of the injured party (BGH, VII ZR 320/21 with further references). Based on this, the plaintiff's involvement of a debt collection service was necessary and expedient. In this respect, the plaintiff could assume that, assuming that her previous warning had been received by the defendant (which the defendant denies) but had been unsuccessful, the involvement of a debt collection service expressed the necessary seriousness of her claim enforcement despite the small amount and thus a legal action procedure could possibly be avoided.
33d. The plaintiff has no claim to the additional pre-trial costs claimed in the amount of €14.00. In this respect, it has not sufficiently explained and proven that these were incurred (reminder costs and chargeback costs) or were necessary (information costs).
342. The counterclaim is admissible and also justified to the extent stated
35a. The defendant has a claim against the defendant for a copy of all data that it processes about him and for information about which other companies the defendant has transmitted his data to in accordance with Article 15 Paragraphs 1 and 3 GDPR.
36With the reply, the plaintiff declared that she would fulfill the defendant's corresponding demands. However, she did not do this. There are no legitimate objections to not fulfilling the contract. It is unclear whether the defendant asked the plaintiff for information on December 23, 2022 or only on June 2, 2023. In any case, the deadline under Article 12 Paragraph 3 Sentence 1 and the GDPR has now expired.
37The plaintiff also cannot demand that the defendant limit himself beforehand with an identity document. Such a claim exists if it is not certain that the claimant is not the person he claims to be, Article 12 Paragraph 6 GDPR. However, there are no such reasonable doubts here.
38b. Furthermore, the defendant has a claim against the plaintiff for non-material damages in the amount of €500.00 in accordance with Article 82 (1) GDPR
39If the plaintiff does not fulfill the claims to which the defendant is entitled in accordance with Art. 15 GDPR, this leads to a claim for damages.
40The fact that the defendant systematically pursues violations of the GDPR in relation to his person must be taken into account when determining the amount of damages, but this does not mean that a claim for unlawful conduct is excluded.
41Immaterial damages serve as satisfaction, but are not intended to represent a source of income. Furthermore, the amount does not depend on how economically powerful the claimant is. The non-material damages claim of the injured party has no punitive function, so that a “deterrent” effect is not important.
42An increase is also not possible from the point of view that the plaintiff refuses - for no legal reason - to provide the information and to hand over the requested data. This would only be the case if the plaintiff continued to work with the data, in particular if it had been passed on to other third parties since June 2, 2023 at the latest, thereby deepening the defendant's damage alone. But this is not apparent.
43c. The interest claim under lit. b. arises from Section 291 of the German Civil Code (BGB), the counterclaim was served on the plaintiff on June 15, 2023. The amount of interest follows from Sections 247 Paragraph 2 and 288 Paragraph 1 BGB.
44The amount in dispute is set at: €1,476.93 (claim: €76.93, counterclaim: applications lit.a. and b.: €200.00 each, application lit. c.: €1,000.00)
45Information on legal remedies:
46An appeal against this judgment is permissible for anyone whose rights are disadvantaged by this judgment,
471. if the value of the subject matter of the complaint exceeds EUR 600.00 or
482. if the appeal in the judgment has been permitted by the district court.
49The appeal must be received at the Düsseldorf Regional Court, Werdener Straße 1, 40227 Düsseldorf, within an emergency period of one month after delivery of this judgment. The notice of appeal must contain the name of the judgment against which the appeal is made and a statement that this judgment is being appealed.
50The appeal must be substantiated within two months of delivery of this judgment to the Düsseldorf Regional Court, unless already stated in the notice of appeal.
51The parties must be represented by a lawyer before the Düsseldorf Regional Court; in particular, the notice of appeal and the statement of reasons for the appeal must be signed by a lawyer.
52A copy or certified copy of the contested judgment should be submitted with the notice of appeal.