Case Summary: Data Protection Commissioner v. Facebook Ireland Ltd & Maximillian Schrems


Republic of Ireland

Where a number of different parties sought to be admitted as amici curiae in legal proceedings concerning the transfer of data between Facebook Ireland and Facebook Inc. in the US, the High Court did not grant every application due to failures to meet necessary criteria.

Click here to read the High Court judgement.


Nine different parties submitted applications seeking to be made amici curiae in the case which concerned the lawfulness of data transfers between two different jurisdictions. These were as follows: the United States of America, BSA Business Software Alliance, IBEC Limited, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Digital Europe, Irish Council of Civil Liberties and American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and Mr Kevin Cahill. These applications were made in view of the economic and commercial consequences that could arise throughout Europe from the ruling of this case.


The High Court admitted only four of the nice parties as amicus curiae in these proceedings.


The High Court applied a test as to the eligibility and necessity of the applicants that had been developed through precedent such as O’Brien v. Personal Injuries Assessment Board (No.1) [2005] 3 I.R. 328 and Fitzpatrick v. F.K. [2007] 2 I.R. 406.

The four successful amici curiae applicants – the US, EPIC, BSA and Digital Europe – were all deemed to have had a bona fide interest in the case. Those that they represent, ranging from ordinary citizens to multinational corporations, could all likely be affected by the outcome of this case with potential changes to law and commerce in both the EU and US a distinct possibility. These parties were also considered to be able to bear expertise and provide assistance which would not have been available to the court otherwise.

The remaining applicants saw their applications refused on the grounds that the court was not satisfied that these applicants could bring a different perspective or offer any assistance to the proceedings that could not already be provided by the admitted amici curiae or the other parties involved.

Points of Note

The use of amici curiae in Irish courts is a rarity although its application is shifting. In past instances, a court would be reluctant to use a party which it deemed to have too strong a view or interest in a case. However, this practice is beginning to wane as displayed by the High Court in these proceedings wherein the applicants for amicus curiae had a clear, significant interest in the issue at hand. However, it was emphasised that they must merely assist the court and not become a party to the action itself.


Sustaining Partners