Data protection meets civil procedure – the ECJ decision in Norra Stockholm Bygg

Blogpost 14/2023

The recent case of Norra Stockholm Bygg represents another important data protection decision from the ECJ. The decision addresses the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) to Member State courts when they are handling personal data, and therefore has important practical significance for civil procedure in all Member States. Domestic courts are now required to have regard to the data protection interests of data subjects when making civil orders which may involve the disclosure of personal data. Moreover, the ECJ’s approach to the legality of such processing offers the first judicial interpretation of Article 6(4) of the GDPR, the potential for lawful ‘incompatible further processing’.

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Consumer Compensation via the Unfair Contract Terms Directive? AG Collins’ Opinion in Bank M (C-520/21, 16 February 2023)

Blogpost 13/2023

In a recent Opinion by Advocate General Anthony Collins, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the Court) was asked to interpret the Unfair Contract Terms Directive (Directive 93/13) (the UCT Directive) in light of a preliminary reference from Poland. In the referral, the Court was asked whether the UCT Directive allows for follow-up compensation claims of EU consumers deceived by unfair contract terms in a foreign denominated mortgage loan agreement. This case could potentially open the door for compensation claims under the UCT Directive and thereby cause the Polish banking sector financial turbulence and distress. How could it come that far?Continue reading

The Normalization of Denial of Legal Safeguards in the proposed Asylum and Migration Legislation

Blogpost 12/2023

In September 2020, the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum was presented by the Commission which aims to provide a ‘fresh start’ on EU asylum policy. Although the ambition of the Common European Asylum System is to guarantee harmonized and uniform standards for third-country nationals seeking international protection in the EU, it is highly questionable, how the proposed instruments, which leave the discretion to Member States to derogate in certain cases from basic rights and asylum guarantees, will achieve this objective. Already the expanded use of border procedures as presented in the amended proposal for an Asylum Procedures Regulation, and the proposed Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation allow, and even vindicate, the non-application of the full sets of rights foreseen in the asylum acquis for those applying for international protection at the borders. One year later, in 2021, the proposal for a Regulation to address situations of instrumentalization in the field of migration and asylum was presented, that although it is part of the Schengen reform, it nevertheless regulates asylum matters and thus should be read in conjunction with the Pact.

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The ECJ’s First Landmark Case on Automated Decision-Making – a Report from the Oral Hearing before the First Chamber

Blogpost 11/2023

Please note: this post discusses the public oral hearing in Case C-634/21 held by the ECJ in Luxembourg on 26 January 2023, which the author attended in person. The summary of the oral hearing as presented here is based on the author’s own observations and notes taken during the hearing.

After decades of existence, the right not to be subject to automated decision-making is finally being considered for the first time before the European Court of Justice (‘ECJ’). On Thursday, 26 January 2023, the First Chamber of the ECJ held its hearing in Case C-634/21, the very first in which it has been asked to interpret Article 22 of the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’). The latter provision grants data subjects the right “not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her”. In a very similar form, this right had already been enshrined in Article 15 of the Data Protection Directive. However, the latter provision never ‘made’ it to the ECJ before Article 22 of the GDPR repealed and replaced it.Continue reading

Game Changer: Defining the Relevant Market of Esports Ecosystems

Blogpost 10/2023

Esports (short for: ‘electronic sports’) have emerged as a major player in the entertainment industry, attracting billions of euros in revenue and a massive global audience. Now that big tech companies have started to establish themselves in the industry, the legal landscape of esports is also becoming increasingly important, especially with regards to the antitrust aspects. Competition law plays a critical role in market regulation and protecting consumer welfare, but its applicability to the unique characteristics of esports is a subject of debate. The purpose of this blog is to explore the challenges and implications of applying EU competition law to esports, with a focus on the crucial aspect of relevant market definition. The post will provide an overview of the guiding legal principles, assess how they would apply to the unique features of esports and conclude with a number of possible approaches to address these challenges.Continue reading

EU law protection from discrimination extends to self-employed workers, confirmed the CJEU in a landmark judgment with LGBT+ rights in the background

Blogpost 9/2023

On 12 January 2023, the Second Chamber of the CJEU delivered its decision in Case C-356/21 J.K. v TP S.A. which represents an important contribution to EU anti-discrimination law. Having examined the Framework Directive 2000/78, the Court has confirmed that the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation applies not only to access to employment, but also to self-employment, provided there is a stable relationship with the client. This case also touches upon the broader issue of the rights of self-employed persons which lacks clarity at the EU level.

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Exercising the right to access personal data in an interconnected online world – Are we really closer to finding out who the recipients of our data are?

Blogpost 8/2023

On 12th of January, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that individuals have the right to be provided with the identities of those who receive and process their personal data.

The right to data protection outlined in Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights aims to protect individuals whenever their personal data are processed. As such, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides enforceable rights to individuals, as data subjects whose personal data are processed, to help counter violations thereof and ensure that data protection rules are effective. At first sight, this judgement appears to be a clear win for individuals: controllers need to reveal the identities of those with whom they share personal data, which should help individuals better assess if their data are lawfully processed, exercise their rights as data subjects, and seek remedies. This should also help ensure that data processing is more transparent. However, to find out the identities of recipients, individuals have to make the effort to exercise their rights and process the information, if received. Additionally, the Court outlined two exceptions to the obligation, whereby it is sufficient to inform individuals of the categories of recipients where a) it is impossible to disclose the identities of recipients; or b) the controller can prove that the request is unfounded or excessive within the meaning of Article 12(5)(b) GDPR. In the online environment in particular, where personal data provided to one company might be shared with a host of others without our knowledge, controllers might be eager to argue that one of the exceptions applies. As a result, the question remains: are we really closer to finding out who the recipients of our personal data are?

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Human rights and ineffective public duties: the Grand Chamber judgment in JP v. Ministre de la Transition écologique

Blogpost 7/2023

In JP v. Ministre de la Transition écologique, the CJEU has been recently called upon to rule on the possibility for an individual to seek compensation for the health issues caused by poor air quality under Directive 2008/50/EC (hereinafter ‘the Air Quality Directive’).


Factual background

In the case at stake, JP (the plaintiff) sought compensation before the administrative tribunal of Cergy-Pontoise (France). Before the domestic court, the applicant claimed, first, the annulment of the decision by which the local public authority refused to adopt the measures deemed necessary to help solve the air quality-related health issues of JP; second, the applicant also sought compensation (for the amount of €21 million) for the damage to his health caused by the poor air quality of the area since 2003. The national court of first instance dismissed the case, while the Cour administrative d’appel de Versailles (the appellate court) suspended the proceedings and asked the CJEU whether Articles 13 and 23 of the Air Quality Directive can be interpreted as conferring upon individuals the right to compensation in case of breaches of the obligations stemming from the same Directive.

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