Case Summary: Max Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner


Republic of Ireland

Where the Plaintiff sought a judicial review of the Data Protection Commissioner’s decision not to investigate a complaint against Facebook Ireland, the High Court granted a Protective Costs Order (PCO).


The Plaintiff had lodged a complaint with the Data Protection Commissioners (DPC) against Facebook Ireland on the grounds that there had been a violation of the privacy rights of Facebook users in Europe. The complaint questioned the transfer of all European data to Facebook’s headquarters in the US, where it was subjected to surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). This was being done so in the absence of adequate protections as required by EU law.


The High Court granted a PCO, limiting the costs of the Plaintiff to a maximum of €10,000.


The Plaintiff had applied for a PCO on the grounds that he had little private interest in the case, arguing it was of importance to the general public, and that his financial position would deter him from taking the case if such an order was not granted. Justice Hogan of the High Court granted his application for the order as, although the Plaintiff had received donations of around €55,000 from the public, these funds could not be relied upon as they were collected to fund 22 other complaints made against Facebook to the DPC that may result in further court proceedings.

Points of Note

The High Court’s landmark decision to grant an order that limited the amount of costs that the Plaintiff would be required to pay was the first of its kind to be granted in Ireland. It demonstrates the Court’s potential willingness to facilitate those taking strategic cases for little personal gain by reducing the burden of costs they may be saddled with.



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