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Out of country appeals do not breach GDPR, says Court of Appeal
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Out of country appeals do not breach GDPR, says Court of Appeal

In Johnson v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1032, the Court of Appeal has determined that there is no breach of the General Data Protection Regulation involved in hearing human rights appeals from abroad via video link. Mr Johnson was deported to Jamaica in 2017 and mounted an audacious attempt to secure his return to the UK by objecting to this use of his personal data, arguing that his appeal must therefore take place in the UK.

The court dismissed the claim, pointing to the specific GDPR exception for legal proceedings:

… paragraph 14(3) of schedule 2 provides “as regards personal data … the listed GDPR provisions do not apply to the extent that the application of those provisions would be likely to prejudice … judicial proceedings”. In my judgment preventing the hearing of the appeal would prejudice judicial proceedings, and the restriction of the right to object is necessary and proportionate for the same reasons. Therefore, in my judgment, the appellant is not entitled to object to the processing of his data in the use of video link, and by transferring a bundle to the British High Commission.

The court also accepted assurances from the High Commission that the data would be deleted within seven days of the appeal. Lord Justice Dingemans declined to rule on whether data going to the High Commission amounted to a transfer to a third country, which raised complicated international law issues about the status of embassies and consulates, but decided that it would be proportionate anyway because of the legal proceedings exception.

Alexander Schymyck

Alex teaches Public Law at the London School of Economics and is due to start pupillage at Garden Court Chambers in April 2021

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