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2019. April 10.

Decision 3069/2019 on disclosure of data of public interest

Decision number: Decision 3069/2019. (IV. 10.)
Subject of the case:

Constitutional complaint against the judgement No. Pfv.IV.21.749/2016/9 of the Curia (disclosure of data of public interest)

The Constitutional Court stated that the judgement No. Pfv.IV.21.749/2016/9 of the Curia is in conflict with the Fundamental Law, therefore the Constitutional Court annulled it. In the underlying case of the constitutional complaint the petitioner asked the court – after the rejection of its request for the disclosure of data of public interest – to bind the Curia to disclose the data related to the opinions obtained in the context of preparing the relevant uniformity decision of civil law. Following the court procedures and finally after the Curia’s decision, the petitioner turned to the Constitutional Court, among others because the petitioner claimed that the Curia had also ruled – unfoundedly –, on the basis of allegations rather than on the basis of the documents, on not allowing access to the contents of the opinions by way of a request for data of public interest. The Constitutional Court has found the petition well-founded. The decisions of public servants are prepared freely, informally and free from public pressure. Thus the requirement of publicity applies only to the final outcome rather than the intermediary working materials. The legal interpretation that considers the totality of the requested documents – irrespectively to their content – as data that serve the purpose of supporting the decision-making, this way preventing access to the documents, allows for the unjustifiably broad – therefore unnecessary – restriction of the right to access data of public interest. In the case under review, the Constitutional Court established that, as the court had had no information about the identity of the persons who had provided external opinion and about the content of the opinions, it had decided in the case without actually examining the material justification of restricting publicity. This way the court placed the totality of the requested documents under the restriction of publicity without paying attention to their content. A judicial decision that allows for the restriction of fundamental rights to an extent wider than necessary is incompatible with the Fundamental Law. The Constitutional Court, therefore, annulled the challenged judgement of the Curia as set forth in the holdings of the decision. Justice dr. László Salamon attached a concurring reasoning and Justice dr. Béla Pokol attached a dissenting opinion to the decision.