As a recap, this very important data protection case before the European Court concerns the Austrian Max Schrems’ legal challenge to the EU Safe Harbor scheme. The Advocate-General in this case delivered his official Opinion last Wednesday 23 September where he concluded, amongst other things, that the EU Safe Harbor Decision (adopted back in the year 2000) is legally invalid. This Opinion is a first step in the European Court process that is followed by the judgment of the judges in the Court who have the discretion to either follow the Opinion or not. This conclusion has come as something of a surprise to say the least and if the European Court judges follow the Advocate-General’s recommendations businesses will have to look at other ways in which they can provide sufficient protection to international transfers of personal data from the EU to the US. As we point out in our film and our podcast this does not just affect the 5,000 or so multinational businesses who are in Safe Harbor. Many businesses use Safe Harbor to legitimize the services vendors provide to them in a whole host of areas including cloud computing, travel management, payroll services, helplines and HR services.
Hot on the heels of this Opinion the European Court has today listed Tuesday 6 October as the date for the judges to deliver their judgment in the Schrems case. It is quite surprising that the judgment has been decided upon so quickly after the Advocate-General’s Opinion and although it is difficult to speculate as to why this is the case it at least sends a signal to businesses that the Court is addressing this matter very seriously. We will of course update you as soon as the judgment comes out!
André Bywater and Jonathan Armstrong are lawyers with Cordery in London where their focus is on compliance issues.
André Bywater, Cordery, Lexis House, 30 Farringdon Street, London, EC4A 4HH
Office: +44 (0)207 075 1785
Jonathan Armstrong, Cordery, Lexis House, 30 Farringdon Street, London, EC4A 4HH
Office: +44 (0)207 075 1784