CASE OF L.H. v. LATVIA
(Application no. 52019/07)
29 April 2014
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of L.H. v. Latvia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Päivi Hirvelä, President,
Vincent A. De Gaetano,
Faris Vehabović, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 1 April 2014,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. Background to the case
B. Assessment of the quality of health care provided to the applicant
“Taking into account the aforementioned, the [Senate] finds that restrictions to a person’s private life connected to gathering and processing of sensitive personal data are provided for by law. When regulating this question, the legislator has already assessed the aim and proportionality of such restrictions, as well as has provided for safeguards against unjustified disclosure of the above-mentioned data. Consequently [the applicant’s] argument that the Regional Court ought to have assessed the aim and proportionality of the restriction is unfounded.
Additionally the [Senate] considers that the Regional Court has correctly interpreted and applied the above-mentioned legal provisions and has come to the correct conclusion that the MADEKKI, in order to carry out the control of the quality of medical care, which it is competent to do, had a right to receive and process [the applicant’s] sensitive data without asking for her consent and that the MADEKKI has acted within its sphere of competence and in accordance with the provisions of the law concerning the processing of sensitive personal data. The MADEKKI used the information it had collected about [the applicant] in order to carry out its functions, namely, to control the quality of the medical care provided to [the applicant], while to the Cēsis hospital it only handed over its conclusions concerning the legality of the doctors’ actions, which did not contain [the applicant’s] sensitive data.”
II. RELEVANT NATIONAL LAW
A. Legal regulation of the MADEKKI
B. Personal data
30. As in force at the relevant time, section 50 of the Medical Treatment Law provided that information concerning patients’ treatment and diagnosis could only be provided to a limited number of institutions, including the MADEKKI.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 8 OF THE CONVENTION
“1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private ... life ....
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
1. Submissions of the parties
“as a result of the applicant’s attempts to achieve an out-of-court settlement with the hospital seeking to recover compensation for damage caused by the allegedly unauthorised tubal ligation. Given that [the hospital] was the respondent in a civil case which may have resulted in significant legal and financial implications, it is natural that it sought independent expert advice. It must specifically be noted that [the hospital] sought expert advice from the national independent institution competent to deal with the issue, the same institution that would have been consulted by courts, had the case proceeded further”.
2. Assessment of the Court
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
B. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the application admissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts:
(i) EUR 11,000 (eleven thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 2,768 (two thousand seven hundred and sixty-eight euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
4. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 29 April 2014, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Päivi Hirvelä
Deputy Registrar President