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Slovenia / Constitutional Court / U-I-70/12-14

Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia v National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

Policy area:
Information society
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Slovenia / Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

The Ombudsman (Varuh človekovih pravic RS) challenged the constitutionality of the Protection of Documents and Archives and Archival Institutions Act (hereinafter referred to as the Archives Act) (Zakon o varstvu dokumentarnega in arhivskega gradiva ter arhivih, ZVDAGA). It argued that the Archives Act was inconsistent with the Constitution (URS) insofar as it determined that upon expiry of the relevant time period medical records had to be turned over to the National Archives (Arhiv RS, ARS). As a result, these data became publicly available and could be used in the interests of science and culture, and to ensure legal certainty. The Constitutional Court (US RS) reviewed the challenged regulation in light of the right to protection of personal data (Article 38 of the Constitution (URS)) and, implicitly, the inviolability of personal dignity (Article 34 of the Constitution (URS)).

Outcome of the case:

The Court emphasised the importance of protecting the dignity of patients and stressed that medical records disclose information from the patient’s private life. It further drew attention to the legitimate expectation of privacy that derives from the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality. The Constitutional Court (US RS) concluded that the aim pursued by the Archives Act (ZVDAGA), i.e. to ensure the preservation of documents and make them available to the public, was too broad to justify the interference with the rights of patients, as it failed to adequately consider the specifically sensitive nature of the personal data contained in medical records. It established that the challenged statutory regulation was inconsistent with the Constitution (URS).