Budova soudu rok 2007A seminar focusing on the relation of Supreme administrative courts and the evolution of the right to publicity, privacy and information, was organised on 18th of May 2015 in the building of the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic located in Brno. The seminar was attended by 25 member courts, one observer and two guest courts.

The seminar opened with a speech by Mrs Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and was chaired by Mr Baxa, President of ACA-Europe and of the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic, who gave the introduction. Commissioner Jourová not only has roots in the Czech Republic, she also had a special interest in the topic of the seminar as two of her main responsibilities as a European Commissioner are:

  • Ensuring the swift adoption of the EU data protection reform and modernising and simplifying consumer rules for online and digital purchases.
  • Concluding negotiations with the United States on a data protection agreement to protect the privacy of EU citizens wherever they live.

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court provided the scientific support for the seminar and also compiled a questionnaire together with Mr. Radim Polčák, Head of the Institute of Law and Technology (ILT) at the Faculty of Law, Masaryk University and with Mr. Pavel Molek, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the Law Faculty of the Masaryk University.

In total, 27 national reports, which are available on ACA-Europe's website, were submitted in response to the questionnaire. The national reports were studied under the supervision of Mrs. Lucia Záhradníková by the Research and Documentation department of the Czech Supreme Administrative Court, which used them as a basis for compiling a general report. The answers to the questionnaire generated two topics for discussion: the right to free access to information and data protection.

The first topic of the right to free access to information was introduced by Mr. Molek. Mr. Thomas Bull, Judge at the Supreme administrative Court of Sweden, and Mr. Donner, Vice-President of the Council of State of the Netherlands, presented their view on this topic. Mr. Diego Cordoba Castroverde, Judge at the Supreme Court of Spain, focused on the competence and the influence of the Spanish Council of Transparency and on the application of the special provision against citizens abusing the right of free access to information. Mrs. Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent, Chairman of the research & study department of the Council of State of France, held a lecture on, on the one hand, the embodiment of the obligation to communicate the information, i.e. the obligation of authorities to designate a person responsible for access to information, and on the other hand, on the power of administrative courts to sanction the abuse of the right to take legal action in cases concerning access to information.
The second topic, data protection, was introduced by Mr Polčák. A first presentation was given by Mr. Clemens Mayr, Justice at the Administrative Court of Austria. Mr. Irmantas Jarukaitis, Deputy President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, illustrated the Lithuanian experience in awarding damages in data protection and free access to information. Mrs. Alice Guimaraes-Purokoski, Justice at the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland, explained the Position, Role and Powers of the Data Protection Ombudsman and the Data Protection Board in Finland. Finally, Mr. Thomas Merkli, Judge of the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, spoke about the position of federal and cantonal officials in charge of the protection of data and transparency and how they relate to each other and about the part of federal officials in charge of data protection and transparency in handling complaints against decisions to lift the duty of professional confidentiality in the field of medical research.
The general conclusions of the seminar were jointly presented by the two chairmen of the round table discussions, Mr Polčák and Mr. Molek.