Sensitive personal data in court proceedings

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Date:
24 Sep 2014

a request for a disclosure order was refused because the interests of safeguarding the confidentiality of personal data outweighed the employer's interests.

By:
Yvonne Frederiksen

A request for a disclosure order was refused because the interests of safeguarding the confidentiality of personal data outweighed the employer's interests.

A party to a lawsuit may want the other party to produce documents in its possession. If the other party refuses, the first party may request a disclosure order.  But the request will be refused if the documents contain information which witnesses would not be required to provide in their evidence.

The case concerned an employer, a shipping company, which believed that it was entitled to recover the costs of five employees’ work-related injuries from its insurance provider. The employer knew that the insurance provider held medical records and other documentation.

The employer argued that the documents in question were relevant to the case and therefore requested the insurance provider to produce the documents. The insurance provider refused, arguing that they contained sensitive personal data and that the employees in question had not consented to the documents being produced. The employer therefore requested a disclosure order.

No disclosure
Like the district court, the High Court did not grant the request for disclosure since the information was deemed to fall within the scope of the rules on exemption of witnesses. In addition, the High Court believed that the interests of the employees in safeguarding the confidentiality of the sensitive personal data outweighed the employer’s interests in having the documents produced.

In addition, the employer had failed to prove to the High Court’s satisfaction that it had exhausted its possibilities of procuring the desired documents through other channels.

 

Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that the ruling illustrates that the interests of safeguarding the confidentiality of sensitive personal data may outweigh a party’s chances of discharging the burden of proof in legal proceedings; and
  • that the High Court’s decision in this regard is based on the provisions of the Danish Administration of Justice Act – and not on the provisions of the Danish Data Protection Act – as no person may be required under the Danish Data Protection Act to disclose personal data.