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VG Berlin - 1 K 90.19

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Revision as of 17:36, 20 December 2020 by AD (talk | contribs)
VG Berlin - 1 K 90.19
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Court: VG Berlin (Germany)
Jurisdiction: Germany
Relevant Law: Article 15 GDPR
§ 59 BDSG
§ 113 (5) VwGO
Decided: 31.08.2020
Published:
Parties:
National Case Number/Name: 1 K 90.19
European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:DE:VGBE:2020:0831.VG1K90.19.00
Appeal from: Amtsgericht Tiergarten
Appeal to:
Original Language(s): German German
Original Source: gerichtsentscheidungen.berlin-brandenburg.de (in German) gerichtsentscheidungen.berlin-brandenburg.de (in German)
Initial Contributor: Fabian Schuster

The Berlin Administrative Court (VG Berlin) held that according to § 59 (4) of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG), an authority obliged to provide information to a data subject may only request additional information to confirm the identity of the data subject if there is "reasonable doubt" as to their identity.

English Summary

Facts

The plaintiff requested written information about the personal data stored by the Local Court of Tiergarten (“Amtsgericht Tiergarten”) concerning his person (including information about the origin and recipients of this data). The Court then dismissed the application on the grounds that the plaintiff had failed to prove his identity in the required form and further demanded the submission of a copy of the plaintiff's identity card. In the subsequent action the plaintiff essentially argued that he was sufficiently identified on the basis of the available postal correspondence with the President of the Amtsgericht Tiergarten.

Dispute

Was there any "reasonable doubt" as to the applicant’s identity? And was it therefore necessary, to request additional information to confirm his identity as laid down in § 59 (4) BDSG?

Holding

The right to information constitutes an unconditional right. The legal basis for the procedure of the provision of information is § 59 BDSG. According to this, the authority obliged to provide information may only request additional information to confirm the identity of an applicant if there is "reasonable doubt" as to his or her identity. Without any particular reason, the authority obliged to provide information may thus not demand proof of identity from an applicant.

Particular reasons or special circumstances are neither presented here nor otherwise apparent. The address of the plaintiff has been known to the defendant for some time. The Amtsgericht Tiergarten has already sent various decisions to the plaintiff at his present address in the past. Furthermore, there is no indication that a third party might have an interest in the requested information and could therefore use a false identity to obtain the information by fraud. Finally, the defendant can prevent the misdirection of the information by formally serving the letter of information.

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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.

Court: VG Berlin 1st Chamber

Decision date: 31.08.2020

File number: 1 K 90.19

Document type: Judgment

Source: Legal norms:
§ 59 (4) BDSG, § 113 (5) sentence 1 VwGO 

Tenor 

The defendant is ordered to provide the applicant with the information requested by letter of 13 November 2018, quashing the decision of  refusal of 17 January 2019 and the decision of opposition of 14 March 2019. 
Order the defendant to pay the costs. 
The judgment is provisionally enforceable with regards to the costs. The defendant may prevent enforcement when providing security amounting to 110% of the amount enforceable on the basis of the judgment unless the plaintiff provides security before enforcement amounting to 110% of the amount to be enforced in each case.
 
Facts 

1. The plaintiff requests written information about the personal data stored by the Local Court of Tiergarten concerning his person (including information about the origin and recipients of this data).

2. By decision of 17 January 2019, the President of the Amtsgericht Tiergarten dismissed the request for information of 13 November 2018, which was received by the Moabit judicial authorities on 26 November 2018, on the grounds that the plaintiff had not proved his identity in the required form. The President of the Amtsgericht Tiergarten demanded in that regard the submission of a copy of the plaintiff's identity card. By decision of 14 March 2019, the President of the Kammergericht dismissed the appeal against that decision. 

3. On 1 April 2019, the plaintiff brought an action to pursue his claim. In support of his action, he essentially submits that he is sufficiently identified on the basis of the available postal correspondence with the President of the Amtsgericht Tiergarten. There can be no doubt as to his identity. 

4. The applicant claims that the Court should 

5. Quash the decision of rejection of the President of the Amtsgericht Tiergarten of 17 January 2019 and the decision of objection of the President of the Kammergericht of 14 March 2019 and order the defendant to provide the applicant with the information requested by letter of 13 November 2018 

6. The defendant claims that the Court should 

7. dismiss the action. 

8. He contests the action by reference to the contested decision. He relies on a judgment of the Cologne Administrative Court of 13 March 2014 - 13 K 3624/13 - juris, which supports the requirement of proof of identity. 

9. For further details of the facts and circumstances of the case, reference is made to the contents of the case file and the defendant's file which were submitted and were the subject of the decision. 
Grounds for the decision 

10. The decision could be made despite the fact that the plaintiff did not appear at the hearing because he was informed of this possibility in the proper summons (§ 102 (2) of the Administrative Court Rules - VwGO). The dispute is to be decided by the Judge- Rapporteur as a single Judge after the Chamber, by order of 11 June 2020, has assigned the case to him for decision pursuant to Article 6(1) of the VwGO. 

11. The action admissible is well founded. The rejection notice of the President of the Local Court Tiergarten dated 17 January 2019 as amended by the objection notice of the President of the Court of Appeal dated 14 March 2019 is unlawful and infringes the plaintiff's rights. The plaintiff has a claim to the requested information (§ 113 (5) sentence 1 VwGO), which is also not disputed by the defendant on the merits. 

12. The only question in dispute between the parties is whether the plaintiff must prove his identity in the qualified form required by the defendant in order to be able to obtain the written information requested. This is to be answered in the negative, so that an unconditional right to information exists here. The legal basis of the procedure for the provision of information is Section 59 of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG). According to this, the authority obliged to provide information may only request additional information to confirm the identity of an applicant if there is "reasonable doubt" as to his or her identity. Without any particular reason, the authority obliged to provide information may thus not demand proof of identity from an applicant (Otto in: Sydow BDSG § 59 para. 22). 

13. Particular reason or special circumstances are neither presented here nor otherwise apparent. The address of the plaintiff has been known to the defendant for some time. The Amtsgericht Tiergarten has already sent various decisions to the plaintiff at his present address in the past. Furthermore, there is no indication that a third party might have an interest in the requested information and could therefore use a false identity to obtain the information by fraud (see Otto in: Sydow BDSG § 59 para. 23). Finally, the defendant can prevent the misdirection of the information by formally serving the letter of information (see Worms in: BeckOK DatenschutzR § 59 BDSG para. 12). 

14. In so far as the defendant refers to the judgment of the Cologne Administrative Court cited above, this does not concern the current legal situation. The BDSG has been in force in a fundamentally amended form since 25 May 2018, which has also changed the legal situation regarding the provision of information. 

15. The decision on costs is based on Paragraph 154(1) of the VwGO. The decision on provisional enforceability follows from § 167 (1) and (2) VwGO in conjunction with §§ Sections 708 No. 11, 709 sentence 2 and 711 ZPO. 

16.
decision:
The value of the subject matter of the dispute shall be set at 5,000.00 euros in accordance with §§ 39 et. seq., 52 et. seq. of the Court Costs Act.