Key facts of the case:
A teacher applied for vocational training, but was not accepted by the organiser. “Dissatisfied with that decision”, the unsuccessful applicant complained that “he was better qualified than the least-qualified female candidate to be offered a place” and, therefore, had been discriminated against on grounds of sex. During the court proceedings the applicant asked the court to order the defendant to disclose information in his possession concerning the profile of the competitors. The denial of this request, based on the relevant provisions of the Irish civil procedures code, having been challenged by the applicant before the appeals court, the latter decided to refer to ECJ (see paras 17-25).
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
- Article 4(1) of Council Directive 97/80/EC of 15 December 1997 on the burden of proof in cases of discrimination based on sex must be interpreted as meaning that it does not entitle an applicant for vocational training, who believes that his application was not accepted because of an infringement of the principle of equal treatment, to information held by the course provider on the qualifications of the other applicants for the course in question, in order that he may establish ‘facts from which it may be presumed that there has been direct or indirect discrimination’ in accordance with that provision. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that a refusal of disclosure by the defendant, in the context of establishing such facts, could risk compromising the achievement of the objective pursued by that directive and thus depriving Article 4(1) thereof in particular of its effectiveness. It is for the national court to ascertain whether that is the case in the main proceedings.
- Article 4 of Council Directive 76/207/EEC of 9 February 1976 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions and Article 1(3) of Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Directive 76/207 must be interpreted as meaning that they do not entitle an applicant for vocational training to information held by the course provider on the qualifications of the other applicants for the course in question, either because he believes that he has been denied access to vocational training on the basis of the same criteria as the other candidates and discriminated against on grounds of sex, referred to in Article 4 of Directive 76/207, or because that applicant complains that he was discriminated against on the grounds of sex, referred to in Article 1(3) of Directive 2002/73, in terms of accessing that vocational training.
- Where an applicant for vocational training can rely on Directive 97/80 in order to obtain access to information held by the course provider on the qualifications of the other applicants for the course in question, that entitlement to access can be affected by rules of European Union law relating to confidentiality.
- The obligation contained in the third paragraph of Article 267 TFEU does not differ according to whether a Member State has an adversarial or an inquisitorial legal system.