THE CONTROLLER CANNOT BE OBLIGED TO CREATE DATA5 April 2019
The Constitutional Court stated: the organisation performing a public duty has to disclose the data of public interest and the data public on grounds of public interest that are typical of its activity or that have been created in connection with its activity. According to the Fundamental Law, the organisation performing a public duty is not obliged to create a list of data containing new data. The applicant for the disclosure of data shall not be entitled to claim that another entity sort out the data available instead of him.
The petitioner requested, in the framework of a scientific research, by way of request of data disclosure in the public interest, the Curia to disclose the list and certain data (case numbers, date of submitting the statement of claim, names of the litigating parties in the case of legal entities) of civil litigations pending for at least seven years. However, the Curia stated that it could not provide the requested list of data as it does not have a record on the dates of submitting the statements of claim.
The Constitutional Court pointed out: the request for data – not exercised in an abusive manner – should not be refused by referring to the extra work implying time or costs needed for making the requested data accessible. Nevertheless, a differentiation should be made concerning the case when the request for data is not aimed at disclosing data retrievable with additional work, but for inducing the controller to obtain new data or create data of another quality, statistics or a statement from the data it processes otherwise.
By referring to its consistent case law, the Constitutional Court first pointed to the importance of the freedom of information, underlining that the openness of the operation of the judiciary, as a separate branch of power, does not differ fundamentally from that of other organisations financed from public funds.
The Constitutional Court also emphasized that the duty of the Curia is to develop the uniformity of the case law of the courts and, primarily, to decide about extraordinary legal remedies. The date of the submission of the statement of claim and the connected duration of the procedure reaching or extending over seven years – although it is deductible from the court files – is not considered as data created in connection with the Curia’s activity or the performance of its public duties. The Constitutional Court also noted as a significant fact that the Curia has no monoply over the information requested to be disclosed as the court of first instance, in accordance with its duties specified in the procedural Acts, necessarily contributes to all essential points of the civil procedure, including the registration of the date of submitting the statement of claim.
By taking into consideration all circumstances, the Constitutional Court rejected the petitioner’s constitutional complaint.
Justice Dr. Béla Pokol attached a concurring reasoning and Justice Dr. István Stumpf attached a dissenting opinion to the decision. The full text can be accessed here and the data-sheet of the decision is available here.