Rb. Zeeland-West-Brabant - AWB- 20 5521
|Rb. Zeeland-West-Brabant - AWB- 20_5521|
|Court:||Rb. Zeeland-West-Brabant (Netherlands)|
|Relevant Law:||Article 15 GDPR|
Article 15(3) GDPR
|National Case Number/Name:||AWB- 20_5521|
|European Case Law Identifier:||ECLI:NL:RBZWB:2021:6088|
|Original Source:||uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl (in Dutch)|
|Initial Contributor:||Martijn Staal|
The District Court of Zeeland-West-Brabant affirmed that Article 15(3) GDPR does not contain an obligation for administrative bodies to provide access to administrative documents containing personal data. A summary of processed personal data suffices.
English Summary[edit | edit source]
Facts[edit | edit source]
Controller is the municipality of Zundert. Data subject requested access to the personal data that was being processed by the municipality pursuant to Article 15 GDPR. In particular, they requested to provide them with a list of all data carriers, whether available in paper or other form, and by additionally providing them with copies or extracts of those data carriers. The controller provided the data subject with an overview of the personal data relating to them processed during the period from 3 October 2017. However, the controller refused to provide copies and extracts of documents.
Data subject was not content with the summary of their processed personal data, and objected to the decision. This objection, however, was declared unfounded by the controller. Hence, the data subject appealed to the District Court and argued, inter alia, that providing merely a summary of the processed data was an insufficient reply to his request. The controller argued that data subject should have given a copy of the underlying files on which the summary was based.
Holding[edit | edit source]
The Court rejected the appeal.
First, it considered that, although it became clear (also from data subjects' explanation at the hearing) that the data subject used the access request to gain access to documents, which the municipality had refused to disclose on the grounds of the Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wob), the municipality did not take this data subjects' intention in the decision.
Second, the Court held, referring to the judgement of 3 March 2021 of the Council of State (RvS), that Article 15(3) GDPR is not intended to ensure the data subject access to administrative documents containing personal data. Although an administrative body can decide to provide a copy of these documents, it is under no obligation to do so. The Court affirmed that an the municipality has sufficed by providing an overview.
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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.
Body Zeeland-West Brabant District Court Date of judgment 01-12-2021 Date of publication 06-12-2021 Case number AWB-20_5521 Jurisdictions Administrative law Special characteristics First instance - single Content indication GDPR Locations Rechtspraak.nl Enhanced pronunciation Share pronunciation print Save as PDF Copy link Pronunciation COURT ZEELAND-WEST-BRABANT Breda seat Administrative law case number: BRE 20/5521 AVG decision of the multiple chamber of 1 December 2021 in the case between [name of plaintiff] , at [place name] ( [country name] ), plaintiff, authorized representative: mr. J.S. Wrist, and the municipal executive of the municipality of Zundert, defendant, authorized representative mr. S.M. skipper. Process sequence In the decision of July 29, 2019 (primary decision), the Commission provided the claimant - in response to his request for access to his personal data on the basis of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - provided an overview of the claimant regarding processed personal data. The college has refused to provide copies and copies of documents. In the decision of 3 March 2020 (contested decision), the Board declared the objection of the applicant against the primary decision unfounded. The applicant appealed against the contested decision. The college has filed a statement of defence. The appeal was discussed at the court hearing on September 8, 2021. On behalf of the Board, the authorized representative and mr. T.N. Sanders, office mate of the authorized representative, present, together with mr. C.J.C. den Ouden and mr. M. Braspenning. Plaintiff and his authorized representative did not appear without notice of impediment. The court has extended the time limit for making a decision. Considerations 1 Facts On June 14, 2018, the claimant requested the college to notify him, pursuant to Article 15 of the GDPR, of any processing of personal data concerning him by providing him with a list of all information carriers, regardless of whether they are available in paper or other form, and by also providing him with copies, copies or extracts of those information carriers. In the primary decision, the Commission provided the Plaintiff with an overview of the Claimant regarding the processed personal data for the period from October 3, 2017. The College has refused to provide copies and copies of documents. Plaintiff appealed the primary decision. In the contested decision, the Board declared the claimant's objection, with reference to and including the advice of the advisory committee, unfounded, supplementing the motivation. 2 Legal framework Article 15, first paragraph, preamble, of the GDPR provides that the data subject has the right to obtain confirmation from the controller as to whether or not personal data concerning him/her is processed and, if that is the case, to obtain access to those personal data. and of the following information (…) The third paragraph, first sentence, provides that the controller provides the data subject with a copy of the personal data that are being processed. The fourth paragraph provides that the right referred to in paragraph 3 to obtain a copy shall not affect the rights and freedoms of others. 3 Review 3.1 In the contested decision, the Commission considered that, according to the request and the plaintiffs explanation during the hearing, its purpose is not so much to gain access to the way in which his personal data have been processed, but to still gain access to documents, of which the Commission disclosure under the Government Information (Public Access) Act. In a general sense, the Commission has considered that the right of access under the GDPR is not intended for this. Plaintiff argues that the Board incorrectly included this in its decision-making. The purpose of a request for access is by definition to take cognizance of the processing of personal data and to assess its lawfulness and there is no room for speculation about intentions. This ground fails. The Court takes into account that the Board stated at the hearing that this consideration in the contested decision constitutes a superfluous consideration. In the opinion of the court, this statement is consistent with the contested decision. Although it has been noted in a general sense that the right of access under the GDPR is not intended to provide access to documents whose disclosure was previously refused, it does not appear from the contested decision that the Board included the plaintiffs in the decision-making process. 3.2 Plaintiff has argued that the Commission erroneously failed to provide a copy of the underlying data carriers. Providing an overview, as the Commission has done, cannot be regarded as access within the meaning of Article 15 of the GDPR. This ground fails. In this regard, the court considers that the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State ruled in its decision of 3 March 2021 (ECLI:NL:RVS:2021:452) that Article 15(3) of the GDPR is not intended to provide access to administrative documents. The obligation to provide a 'copy of the personal data' under Article 15(3) of the GDPR does not therefore mean that an administrative body is obliged to provide a copy of the documents containing those personal data. An administrative body may do this, but it may also choose another form in which the copy of the personal data is provided, provided that the chosen method of provision fulfills the purpose of Article 15, paragraph 3, of the GDPR. Department. Since the claimant has not argued that the provision in the form of an overview would not have met the purpose of Article 15(3) of the GDPR, there is no reason to believe that the Board was obliged to provide a copy of the the documents containing those personal data. The College has only been able to provide an overview. Because the Board has been able to do that, the District Court is unable to discuss the merits of the plaintiffs' grounds according to which the provision of a copy of the documents could not be refused and that the failure to provide a copy constitutes a limitation of the right of inspection that is not necessary and disproportionate. 3.3 In assessing the request, the Commission has only taken into account the period from 3 October 2017. It has been established that the Board made a decision on the objection on 3 October 2017 in response to an earlier request from the claimant for access to his personal data, at the time on the basis of Article 35 of the Personal Data Protection Act. The Board also provided an overview of the processing of the claimant regarding personal data. Plaintiff argued that the Commission erred in taking into account only the period from October 3, 2017. A request for access may be repeated at reasonable intervals. It follows from this that a request for access must be processed, without regard to previous requests for access. According to the claimant, a different explanation would mean that the plaintiff would never again have the opportunity to inspect after an initial rejection. The court is of the opinion that the claimant's request, insofar as it relates to the period before October 3, 2017, is a repetition of his earlier request. Although the claimant has rightly stated that he may contact the college at reasonable intervals to submit a request under Article 15 of the GDPR, the college is not obliged to investigate whether there is reason to reconsider a previous decision. over the same period, if no new facts or changed circumstances have been stated by the claimant. A request may then be rejected, unless this would be manifestly unreasonable. The court finds that the Board has not explicitly decided on the request insofar as it relates to the period before 3 October 2017. This means that the appeal is well-founded and that the contested decision will be annulled on this part. The court concludes from the motivation of the contested decision that the Board did intend to reject the request insofar as this relates to the period before 3 October 2017. It cannot be held that this is clearly unreasonable in this case. Doing what the Board should have done (more explicitly), the court will settle the case itself by rejecting the request insofar as it relates to the period before 3 October 2017. 3.4 Since the court upholds the appeal, the Board must reimburse the applicant for the court fee paid by him. 3.5 The court orders the court to pay the costs incurred by the plaintiff. The legal costs are calculated in accordance with the Administrative Costs Decree. The college is ordered to reimburse the costs of legal aid. The court sets these costs at €748.00 (1 point for submitting the notice of appeal, with a value per point of €748.00 and a weighting factor of 1). Decision The court: - declares the appeal well-founded; - annul the contested decision, insofar as it does not rule on the request insofar as it relates to the period before 3 October 2017; - rejected the request insofar as it relates to the period before 3 October 2017; - ordered that decision to replace the annulled part of the contested decision to that extent; - orders the Board to reimburse the plaintiff for the court fee of € 178.00 paid; - orders the Board to pay the plaintiff's legal costs to an amount of € 748.00. This statement was made by mr. mr. G.M.J. Kok, chairman, and T. Peters and mr. drs. E.J. Govaers, members, in the presence of mr. W.J.C. Goorden, Registrar, on 1 December 2021 and made public by means of anonymized publication on www.rechtspraak.nl. Registrar President Copy sent to parties on: What can you do if you disagree with this statement? An appeal can be lodged against this decision with the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State within six weeks of the date on which it was sent.