Judgment 36345/16 (lb)

Applicant name LB
Applicant type natural person
Number of applicants 1
Country Hungary
Application no. 36345/16 
Date 09/03/2023   
Judges Síofra O’Leary,
 Robert Spano,
 Gabriele Kucsko-Stadlmayer,
 Pere Pastor Vilanova,
 Ksenija Turković,
 Krzysztof Wojtyczek,
 Valeriu Griţco,
 Egidijus Kūris,
 Georgios A. Serghides,
 Lətif Hüseynov,
 Péter Paczolay,
 Ivana Jelić,
 Raffaele Sabato,
 Saadet Yüksel,
 Lorraine Schembri Orland,
 Ana Maria Guerra Martins,
 Ioannis Ktistakis
Institution Court
Type Judgment
Outcome Art. 8 Violation
ReasonNot necessary (economic well-being, rights and freedoms)
Type of privacy Informational privacy
Keywords Quality of legislative process
Facts of the case The application concerns the publication of the applicant’s personal data on a list of major tax debtors on the website of the National Tax and Customs Authority, for failure to comply with his tax obligations. The applicant alleged that the publication infringed his right to respect for private life as protected by Article 8 of the Convention.
AnalysisWhile the publication of taxpayer data is not problematic as such, the Court assesses the legislative choices which lay behind the impugned interference and whether the legislature weighed up the competing interests at stake. In that context the quality of the parliamentary review of the necessity of the interference is of central importance in assessing the proportionality of a general measure. To this point, the Court finds that the preparatory legislative discussions do not reveal any assessment of the likely effects on taxpayer behaviour of the publication schemes that already existed, nor do they disclose any reflection as to why those measures were deemed insufficient to achieve the intended legislative purpose or as to the potential complementary value, aside from the evident fact that certain negative repercussions as to the reputation of the person concerned might follow from being identified as a major tax debtor on the impugned list. In particular, it does not emerge that Parliament assessed to what extent publication of all the elements , most notably the tax debtor’s home address, was necessary to achieve a deterrent effect, in addition to that of tax defaulters identified on a separate list. There is no evidence that consideration was given to the impact of the publication scheme on the right to privacy, and in particular the risk of misuse of the tax debtor’s home address by other members of the public.

Judge Serghides, in a partly dissenting opinion, disagrees that the finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction for any non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant. Article 41 of the Convention, as worded, cannot be interpreted as meaning that “[the] finding [of] a violation of a Convention provision” can in itself constitute sufficient “just satisfaction to the injured party”. This is so because the former is a prerequisite for the latter and one cannot take them to be the same.

Judges Wojtyczek and Paczolay dissent, both because they find that the Court’s review of the parliamentary process goes too far and because the judgement is in abstracto.
Other Article violation?
Damage awarded (a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, EUR 20,000 (twenty thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
Documents Judgment