Rb. Rotterdam - C/10/576091/HA RK 19-701

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Rb. Rotterdam - C/10/576091/HA RK 19-701
CourtsNL.png
Court: Rb. Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Jurisdiction: Netherlands
Relevant Law: Article 15(3) GDPR

Article 12 ePrivacy Directive

Article 21 Code of Civil Procedure

Decided: 21. 01. 2020
Published: 23. 01. 2020
Parties: The State of the Netherlands vs. Anonymous
National Case Number: C/10/576091/HA RK 19-701
European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:NL:RBROT:2020:483
Appeal from: n/a
Language: Dutch
Original Source: De Rechtspraak (in NL)

The Rotterdam Court of First Instance considered the complainant's access request to procedural files before the State of the Netherlands was inadmissible. The Court ruled that the data subject does not automatically have the right to inspect or copy the documents or files containing their personal data under Article 15(3) GDPR and Article 12 of the ePrivacy Directive. However, there is a right to a complete overview, in comprehensible form, of all personal data.

English Summary[edit | edit source]

Facts[edit | edit source]

The plaintiff asked to the State to grant him access to procedural files in which he was involved against the State of the Netherlands concerning forgeries offence. The applicant claimed that the procedural files contained his personal data and evidences which could help him to prove his innocence in the aforementioned case and all the cases in which he would have been involved as party against the State. The State refused to grant him the access.

Dispute[edit | edit source]

The Court clarified the interplay between the right to inspection under the ePrivacy Directive and the right to access under the GDPR.

Holding[edit | edit source]

First, the Court examines the basis of the applicant's request pursuant to Article 12 of the Code of Civil Procedure which requires to state fully and truthfully the relevant facts, and to submit all the document relevant to the application. In this regard, the Court considered that the applicant did not comply with this obligation. Indeed, the Court pointed out there is no docuiment showing that the applicant submitted an inspection request of the procedural files at stake.

Then, the Court clarified that both the ePrivacy Directive and the GDPR apply. It considered that the right of inspection of document including personal data is not absolute. However, it stated that the access right and the right of inspection have to be understood as a right to a complete overview of all personal data, in a form that enables the data subject to inspect his or her data and to check that they are correct and have been processed lawfully. Regarding the format, the Court recalled that the data subject cannot expect to be provided with the original document and that the material form depends on the concrete circumstances.

Finally, the Court considered that in any cae, the applicant's purpose was not to verify the accuracy and lawfulness of the personal data processed but to use them to prove his innocence in the case he was involved against the State and in any proceedings to be brought against the State. Thus, the court ruled that the applicant could not invoke the right to inspection because his claim did not concern the protection of his personal data and therefore, there was an abuse of rights.

As a consequence, the court considered the applicant's claim as inadmissible.

Comment[edit | edit source]

Regarding the same issue, see the case Rb. Rotterdam - C/10/576074/HA RK 19-694.

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

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

disposal
ROTTERDAM COURT

Trade and port team

Case number / petition number: C/10/576091 / HA RK 19-701

Decision of 21 January 2020

in the matter of

[applicant] ,

living in Delft,

petitioner,

appeared in person,

and

the public-law entity

THE STATE OF THE NETHERLANDS,

Ministry of Justice and Security,

more specifically, the General Administration of the Court [name of court] ,

having its registered office at [place of business] ,

defendant,

attorney at law M.M.C. van Graafeiland in The Hague.

The parties will hereinafter be referred to as [applicant] and the State.
1 The procedure
1.1.

An application dated 30 January 2019, with productions 1 to 10, was received at the Registry of the District Court [name of the District Court] on 31 January 2019.
1.2.

By order of 21 May 2019, the Subdistrict Court of the District Court [name of court] referred the case, as it stands, to the Commercial Team of the District Court [name of court] .
1.3.

By order of 14 June 2019, the district court [name of district court] referred the case, as it stood, to the Rotterdam District Court.
1.4.

By letter dated 1 October 2019, Mr. Van Graafeiland acted on behalf of the State.
1.5.

Contrary to her letter of 1 October 2019, by letter of 13 November 2019, Mr. Van Graafeiland stated that she exclusively stood up on behalf of the State in the present case and in the cases with case numbers C/10/576071 / HA RK 19-693, C/10/576074 / HA RK 19-694, C/10/576079 / HA RK 19-696, C/10/576096 / HA RK 19-703 and C/10/576129 / HA RK 19-708.
1.6.

A statement of defence containing productions 1.1 to 2c was received at the Registry of this Court on 2 December 2019.
1.7.

Also on 3 December 2019 a letter from [the applicant] with annexes was received at this court.
1.8.

On 10 December 2019 this case was heard orally at the same time at the public hearing with the petition proceedings pending before this court with case number C/10/576071 / HA RK 19-693 C/10/576074 / HA RK 19-694, C/10/576079 / HA RK 19-696, C/10/576083 / HA RK 19-697, C/10/576085 / HA RK 19-698, C/10/576094 / HA RK 19-702, C/10/576096 / HA RK 19-703, C/10/576110 / HA RK 19-706, C/10/576126 / HA RK 19-707, C/10/576129 / HA RK 19-708, C/10/576131 / HA RK 19-709 and C/10/576134 / HA RK 19-710.
1.9.

Finally, the decision has been adopted today.
2 The dispute
2.1.

The applicant seeks an order that the State be ordered to grant [the applicant] access to the case-file in which he is involved. In support of his application, [the applicant] submits that the State failed to provide information on the action taken on the application without delay and within the time limits laid down in the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (AVG) following receipt of his application. On the occasion of the oral hearing, [the applicant] claimed that the relevant case files in which he was involved contained forgeries. By granting access to those case-files, [the applicant] wishes to prove his innocence.
2.2.

The State puts forward a defence and claims that [the applicant] should be declared inadmissible in his application, or at least that his application should be rejected, and that [the applicant] should be ordered to pay the costs. The State claims in that regard that the State has already decided on [the applicant's] applications. Nor has [the applicant] stated and explained why the content of those decisions is incorrect. Moreover, the applications of [the applicant] do not form part of these proceedings.
2.3.

The arguments of the parties are discussed in more detail below, in so far as they are relevant.
3 The assessment
3.1.

The starting point for the assessment of any civil dispute is that the court examines the case and decides on the basis of what the parties have put forward in their requests. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the parties are obliged to fully and truthfully state the facts relevant to the decision. This also means that the parties must submit the documents relevant to the decision.
3.2.

In the opinion of the District Court, [the applicant] has not done so. For instance, no documents have been submitted showing that [the applicant] has submitted an application for inspection to the State and that he has received a possible response from the State to this application. In these circumstances, it is not possible to decide on the substance of the application, so that [the applicant] is declared inadmissible in his application.
3.3.

The District Court considers it superfluous that in case [the applicant] would have been admissible in his application, the application would not have been allowable either.
3.4.

The right of inspection that was previously laid down in article 12 of the Privacy Directive 95/46 has now been included in article 15 of the AVG. The purpose of this right is to enable the data subject to have access to the personal data collected about him or her and to check that these data are accurate and lawfully recorded. For the time being, there are no indications that under the AVG the objective and scope of this right of access has changed compared to the Privacy Directive, so that case law on the right of access that was established at the time of the Privacy Directive still applies now that the AVG is in force.
3.5.

Article 15 paragraph 3 of the AVG gives the right to a copy of the personal data being processed. Documents as such are not personal data and the AVG does not refer to the provision of a copy of the documents in which the personal data have been processed. The right of inspection therefore does not mean that the person concerned has a right of inspection or copies of the documents or files as such if they contain his or her personal data. However, there is a right to a complete overview, in comprehensible form, of all personal data. In other words, in a form that enables the data subject to inspect his or her data and to check that they are correct and have been processed lawfully. Insofar as this can be met by another form of disclosure, the data subject cannot derive the right from the AVG to obtain a copy of the original document or file containing the data (ECJ 17 July 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2081). The concrete material form in which the data must be provided therefore depends on the concrete circumstances.
3.6.

On the occasion of the oral hearing, [the applicant] explicitly and unequivocally stated that he requests access to procedural files that the court [name of the court] or the State has dealt with in relation to [the applicant]. The court thus understands that access is requested to procedural files in cases in which [applicant] was involved as a party to the proceedings. The application would, in case of admissibility of [applicant] in his application, not be granted. The parties to legal proceedings have their own case-file containing the procedural documents and copies of letters in the case in question.
3.7.

The District Court is of the opinion that the application would not qualify for granting either, because [the applicant] is making an abuse of rights within the meaning of Article 3:13 of the Civil Code by frequently submitting applications on the basis of the AVG. The purpose of the right of inspection is to enable the data subject to take cognizance of the personal data collected about him and to check whether those data are correct and have been processed lawfully. On the occasion of the Oral Hearing, [the applicant] stated that he submitted the applications solely to prove his innocence with documents relating to procedural files in which he was involved as a party to the proceedings. In so far as it must be established that the purpose pursued by [the applicant] is not to verify the accuracy and lawfulness of his personal data, but to obtain information which he wishes to use in order to provide (further) evidence of his innocence in any proceedings to be brought against the State. The purpose of [the applicant]'s right of inspection does not concern the protection of personal data, so that there is an abuse of rights.
3.8.

Now that [the applicant] has been declared inadmissible in his application, he will be ordered to pay the State's legal costs. To date, the costs of the proceedings on the part of the State have been estimated at an amount of € 639.00 in court registry fees and zero lawyer's salary. Now the State in the present case and in the cases with case number C/10/576071 / HA RK 19-693, C/10/576074 / HA RK 19-694, C/10/576079 / HA RK 19-696, C/10/576096 / HA RK 19-703 and C/10/576129 / HA RK 19-708 conducted the same defence, one point was awarded to the lawyer's salary in the case with case number C/10/576071 / HA RK 19-693. In the other cases, such as the present one, no point is therefore awarded to an attorney at law salary.
4 The decision

The court
4.1.

Declares [the applicant]'s application inadmissible;
4.2.

orders [the applicant] to pay the costs of the proceedings, assessed on behalf of the State at

€ 639,00.

This decision was taken by Mr A.F.L. Geerdes and pronounced in public on 21 January 2020.

2897/676