ECJ to rule on Schrems case on 6 October

30 Sep 2015

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will give its judgment in the Schrems case on 6 October, less than two weeks after its advocate general’s opinion was published.

On 23 September, Yves Bot gave his views on the case brought by Max Schrems against the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland, with his opinion on Safe Harbour dominating headlines.

Bot called Safe Harbour ‘invalid’ in a case revolved around Schrems’ personal Facebook information passing through Europe, on to the company’s Irish offices and through to the US.

With Edward Snowden’s lengthy and damaging revelations about just how indiscriminate the surveillance of pretty much everybody can get in the US, Schrems had argued that Safe Harbour should be irrelevant.

Bot, it seems, agrees. However, his statement was just an opinion, with the ECJ’s official finding to be revealed next week.

There is more to the case than just Safe Harbour, though, with the understanding of European Commission decisions also up for debate.

In saying that the Commission’s decisions on Safe Harbour are “not absolutely binding”, Bot’s comments could open up a can or worms.

“It’s difficult to understand how a Commission decision can be characterised as ‘not absolutely binding’, in light of the established principles governing the legal effect of EU legislative acts,” said legal experts Mason Hayes & Curran.

“In short, many aspects of the General Data Protection Regulation may need to be revisited should the ECJ chose to adopt the ‘Schrems Opinion’.”

We’ll know for sure next week.

Main image of a flower in front of the ECJ via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic