The supervision of personal data in the courts and certain statutory bodies exercising decision making functions

Data protection and the courts when acting in their judicial capacity

Although the Data Protection Commission (DPC) is the supervisory authority for data protection laws in Ireland, special rules apply where the courts are engaging in personal data processing activities. These special rules come from Article 55(3) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which prevents the DPC, like other EU data protection authorities, from supervising the data processing operations of the courts when they are acting in their judicial capacity. This is to ensure the independence of the judiciary in the performance of its judicial tasks, including decision-making.

Personal data processed in the context of the complaint handling, investigative and decision-making functions of statutory bodies

The DPC remains the supervisory authority for the data processing operations of statutory bodies which have complaint handling, investigative and/or decision-making functions such as the Workplace Relations Commission or the Residential Tenancies Board.  However, when the DPC is handling any complaints received from individuals concerning processing of personal data which is carried out in the context of an ongoing procedure or proceedings before such a statutory body, the DPC will take account of restrictions which may be applied to the exercise of data subject rights under Section 60(3)(a)(iv) of the 2018 Act. Such restrictions may apply where necessary and proportionate having regard to the existence of any prospective or actual legal claim or proceedings or administrative procedure which is ongoing before the statutory body. In considering whether the rights of an individual under the GDPR may be lawfully restricted by the relevant data controller in such a context, the DPC will have particular regard to the public interest objective underpinning Section 60(3)(a)(iv). This is the public interest in ensuring that the statutory process (i.e. the procedure or proceedings undertaken by the relevant statutory body) in question is not prejudiced or interfered with such as would undermine the integrity and/or the progression of that statutory process.

The supervision of personal data in the courts and certain statutory bodies exercising decision making functions: Full Guidance Note