Public Law

On Friday evening – just as we launched this blog on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Scottish Parliament building – the Scottish Public Law Group held its Autumn seminar on the implications of EU law principles for Scots public law. As Professor Sir David Edward observed, the very idea of ‘Scots public law’ is still fairly novel but it seems to have taken hold – the event was hosted by the Scottish Government at Victoria Quay and attracted a sell out crowd of 100. For a legal seminar at 5pm on a Friday that’s pretty good going.

Amongst the range of topics discussed by guest speakers (including ECJ Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston who flew in from Luxembourg for the occasion), one which got me scribbling was about the approach of the European Court to redaction of personal data. For those regularly advising on Freedom of Information one of the most difficult areas of law is the interface with data protection – the practical problem being to know whether and how far a public authority can go in ‘redacting’ personal data. It is worth bearing in mind that the ECJ’s views on the requirements of the Data Protection Directive will be relevant and that the Court recently considered the redaction of names from the minutes of meetings in the Bavarian Lager Case. In a case involving an application for disclosure of material held by the EU Commission, under the EU’s own access to information regime, the ECJ found that the names of individuals on minutes, indicating their attendance at meetings, was personal data. That data could be withheld because, in particular, Bavarian Lager had not made out a convincing case about why release was necessary to protect its legitimate interests.

If this is the sort of thing that gets your mind working on a Friday evening then you’re in good company here…

Christine O'Neill
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