Rb. Noord-Nederland - 7972903 CV EXPL 19-7975

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Rb. Noord-Nederland - 7972903 CV EXPL 19-7975
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Court: Rb. Noord-Nederland (Netherlands)
Jurisdiction: Netherlands
Relevant Law: Article 6 GDPR
Decided: 28. 4. 2020
Published: 8. 5. 2020
Parties: Stichting Nijestee (Nijestee foundation)
National Case Number/Name: 7972903 CV EXPL 19-7975
European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:NL:RBNNE:2020:1828
Appeal from:
Appeal to:
Original Language(s): Dutch
Original Source: de Rechtspraak (in Dutch)
Initial Contributor: n/a

The District Court of the Northern Netherlands (Rechtbank Noord-Nederland) found that the housing corporation Stichting Nijestee had no legal basis for sharing non-anonymized court decision concerning the claimant with other parties, like co-tenants and other housing corporations.

English Summary[edit | edit source]

Facts[edit | edit source]

The housing corporation Stichting Nijestee submitted non-anonymized judgments against the Claimant and her deceased father in proceedings against another tenants.

According to Nijestee a court order is public unless legal exception apply. The Claimant has brought forward her private information by herself via a public procedure, after which it was included in the judgement. According to Nijestee they had reasonable grounds for using that judgement in another procedure. Nijestee also believes that data processing is permitted if certain conditions allowing it are met, and it has not been demonstrated that this was not the case.

Claimant is of the opinion that Nijestee acted unlawfully towards her and her diseased father. She asked the Court to prohibit Nijestee from sharing her personal data contained in a judgement.

Dispute[edit | edit source]

Holding[edit | edit source]

The Court did not take into consideration the Claimant’s complaint about the processing of her father’s personal data because the Claimant had failed to explain why that processing was unlawful against her.

The Court considered that it was possible that the personal data provided by Claimant to a court for the purpose of obtaining a judgment had been made available in a public court order. However, the Claimant’s consent to further dissemination of her personal data cannot be assumed from this.

The Court therefore ruled that, in the absence of consent or any other legal basis, the sharing of the Claimant’s personal data by Nijestee was unlawful. Nijestee was also prohibited from sharing Claimant’s personal data with other parties, like co-tenants and other housing corporations.

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English Machine Translation of the Decision[edit | edit source]

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

COURT OF NORTHERN NETHERLANDS

Private law department

Location Groningen

Case number: 7972903 \ CV EXPL 19-7975

judgment of the cantonal court of 21 April 2020

regarding

[plaintiff]

living at [place],

plaintiff,

Agent: Mr. M.M.J. Arts,

by

The foundation

FOUNDATION NIJESTEE,

having its registered office and place of business in Groningen,

defendant,

Agent: Mr. C.E. van der Wijk.

The parties will hereinafter be referred to as [plaintiff] and Nijestee.
1 Proceedings
1.1

The course of the procedure is evidenced by

- the summons

- the conclusion of reply

- the conclusion of reply

- the conclusion of the rejoinder
1.2.

Finally, a judgment has been handed down.
2 Reason
2.1.

The facts

For the purposes of these proceedings, the following established facts may be relied upon.
2.1.1.

On 26 October 2009, [plaintiff] entered into a lease agreement with Nijestee with regard to the self-contained dwelling at the [address]. This lease agreement is subject to Nijestee's general rental conditions for self-contained dwelling of 10 April 2007.
2.1.2.

By judgment of the Interim Injunction Judge of the District Court of Noord-Nederland, location Groningen, dated 23 June 2017, [plaintiff] has been ordered to vacate her home and make it freely available to Nijestee during the period that Nijestee performs the planned work on the home and not to enter the home during the performance of the planned work.
2.1.3.

By judgment of the Subdistrict Court of the District Court of Noord-Nederland, location Groningen, dated 3 September 2019, the lease agreement between [plaintiff] and Nijestee in respect of the dwelling at the [address] was dissolved and [plaintiff] was ordered to evict it. Furthermore, [plaintiff] has been ordered to pay Nijestee an amount of € 2,136.15, increased by the statutory interest on this amount as from

13 February 2019 until the day of full payment. In addition, [the plaintiff] has been ordered to pay Nijestee the costs of the proceedings and has been ordered to pay Nijestee damages in the amount of € 1,820.90 plus statutory interest on this amount from 13 February 2019 until the date of payment in full.
2.1.4.

Plaintiff] has lodged an appeal against the judgment of 3 September 2019.

The claims of [plaintiff]
2.2.

The claims of [plaintiff] are as follows:
2.2.1.

That the District Court of Noord-Nederland, chamber for cantonal cases, location Groningen, may be pleased by judgment, as far as possible enforceable in stock:

I rule that [plaintiff] shall not owe any rent to Nijestee for the months of January, February and March 2018;

II to rule that [plaintiff] is entitled to apply rent reduction for the months October and November 2018;

III Declare that Nijestee must pay damages to [plaintiff] pursuant to Section 7:220 paragraphs 1 and 2 of Book 7 of the Dutch Civil Code in the amount of its total claim against [plaintiff] or to be determined by the court in good court;

IV Nijestee to prohibit Nijestee from distributing the personal data of [plaintiff] to third parties, such as fellow tenants, the selection committee Groninger housing corporations and WoningNet, in the judgments to be rendered by the District Court (with respect to her person);

order V Nijestee to pay the costs of the proceedings, including post and service costs.
2.2.2.

Nijestee put forward a defence and concluded that [plaintiff] should be declared inadmissible or that its claims should be dismissed with an order that [plaintiff] should pay the costs of the proceedings, to the extent possible, provisionally enforceable by judgment.
2.2.3.

The Subdistrict Court will discuss the parties' claims in more detail below, insofar as relevant.

The assessment
2.3.

Recourse to rent reduction or set-off, as the case may be

The claims under I up to and including III that [plaintiff] has brought in these proceedings have been the subject of the dispute in proceedings brought by Nijestee against [plaintiff], which proceedings ended in the judgment of the Subdistrict Court of 3 September 2019. The enforcement dispute raised by [plaintiff] against this judgment has been rejected by judgment of 30 September 2019.
2.3.1.

Nijestee has therefore taken the position that if [plaintiff] does not agree with the judgment of 3 September 2019 it can lodge an appeal against it. However, it is not possible to refer the same issue to the Subdistrict Court again in new proceedings at first instance.
2.3.2.

In this respect the Subdistrict Court considered that the 'ne bis in idem' principle in civil law, derived from criminal law, constitutes an obstacle to obtaining a different opinion - other than by lodging an appeal - against the same other party on a claim of (virtually) the same substance and purport as a previous claim that has already been decided by a court of equal rank. If a claim is brought contrary to this principle of good procedural conduct, it must be rejected.
2.3.3.

Evidently, and also not in dispute, the basis and scope of claims I to III of [plaintiff] in these proceedings are identical to those of Nijestee's earlier claims against it, which were decided by judgment of 3 September 2019. Consequently, the present actions I to III were brought in breach of the aforementioned principle and will therefore be dismissed.
2.4.

Prohibition on the dissemination of personal data
2.4.1.

It has been established between the parties in the present proceedings that Nijestee has received the non-anonymized eviction order of the Subdistrict Court of Groningen of

23 June 2017 in proceedings against another tenant of a dwelling at [place 1] (a dwelling in the same neighbourhood as the [address]). The tenant of the dwelling at [place 1] also refused to cooperate in the execution of planned maintenance. Also, Nijestee has not anonimized a judgment against the deceased father of [plaintiff] in the proceedings against the tenant of a dwelling on the Zaagmuldersweg. According to Nijestee, the eviction order against [plaintiff] was relevant. Plaintiff] took the position that Nijestee acted unlawfully towards her (and her deceased father) by disclosing private information to third parties. For this reason, [plaintiff] has demanded an injunction against disclosing her personal data to third parties in a judgment to be rendered by the Subdistrict Court.
2.4.2.

Nijestee has argued that a decision of a court is public, unless an exception has been included in the law. Nijestee had reasonable grounds to use the judgment given against [the plaintiff] in other proceedings. The private details of [plaintiff] were brought forward by herself in public proceedings, after which they were included in the judgment. Incidentally, Nijestee notes that it will no longer use the judgments in other proceedings. Furthermore, Nijestee is of the opinion that data processing is permitted if the conditions that apply to it have been met, while it has not emerged that it does not meet these conditions.
2.4.3.

The Subdistrict Court considered the following. Plaintiff] has complained about Nijestee publishing a judgment against her deceased father. But because [plaintiff] failed to explain why the processing of her father's personal data by Nijestee against her would be unlawful, her complaint about the processing of these data will not be considered in the judgment of the Subdistrict Court. After all, it has not turned out that [the plaintiff] has an interest in this judgment.
2.4.4.

Regulation (EU) 2016/679 entered into force on 25 May 2018. This regulation is referred to as the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG). Personal data is defined in Article 4(1) of the GSC as any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.
2.4.5.

There is no dispute between the Parties that the submission of a non-anonymised judgment in any other proceedings is covered by the notion of processing of personal data of [plaintiff]. Indeed, the summary judgment of the Subdistrict Court of 23 June 2017 mentions her name and address. Article 4 of the AVG mentions dissemination as a method of processing. Article 6 of the AVG states that the processing of personal data is only permitted if one of the conditions stated in Article 6 of the AVG is met, for example because the person concerned has given his or her consent. The Subdistrict Court held that it is up to Nijestee to establish facts and circumstances and, in the event of a dispute, to prove that the processing is lawful. What Nijestee put forward in that respect in the present proceedings is insufficient. It may be the case that the personal data provided by [the plaintiff] to the Subdistrict Court for the purpose of obtaining a judicial opinion have been laid down in a publicly pronounced judgment. However, the consent of [plaintiff] for further distribution of its personal data may not be derived from this. Partly for this reason, judgments against natural persons are always published in anonymized form on rechtspraak.nl.
2.4.6.

The distribution of Nijestee's personal data by Nijestee without its consent or without any other valid reason is therefore contrary to the GCG and unlawful towards [the plaintiff]. The claim brought by [plaintiff] under IV can be upheld. After all, without any explanation that has not been given, it is impossible to see why the prohibition has been formulated too broadly.
2.5.

Legal costs

Since the parties were found to be in the wrong, the Subdistrict Court sees reason to compensate the costs of the proceedings in such a way that each of the parties bears its own costs.
3 Decision

The cantonal judge:
3.1.

prohibits Nijestee from distributing [plaintiff's] personal data to third parties, such as fellow tenants, the selection committee Groninger housing corporations and WoningNet, in judgments to be rendered by the court (with respect to its person),
3.2.

declares the judgment provisionally enforceable,
3.3.

rejects the more or otherwise advanced.

Thus pointed out by M.A.B. Faber-Siermann, Subdistrict Judge, and pronounced in open court on 21 April 2020 in the presence of the Registrar.