Since May 25, the date on which the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, court judgments are no longer being published in Cyprus.
This concerns decisions by all courts, according to a report by the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
The rationale behind the move was not entirely clear. It was also unclear whose decision this was, although CNA suggested it was the supreme court’s.
The news agency said that the full bench of the supreme court would convene on Wednesday to “examine the issue that has arisen pertaining to personal data in relation to court decisions.”
Head of the Cyprus Bar Association Doros Ioannides told CNA that no final decision has been taken on the matter.
But he confirmed that in the interim court decisions are not being published on the CyLaw portal operated by the bar association.
“Personal data has nothing to do with the publication (or not) of court decisions,” Ioannides told CNA.
The question at hand, he added, is not whether court decisions would be published – “they will always be made public” – but rather whether the names of the litigants are to be removed/redacted from the documents.
In his opinion, the names of the litigants should not be considered personal data, except for court proceedings held behind closed doors.
Head of the Union of Cyprus Journalists Giorgos Frangos said not publishing court decisions “erodes freedom of the press and deprives the media from a significant source of information.”
Frangos attributed the “complete and sweeping application of this practice (non-publication of decisions)” to a “formalistic and dogmatic interpretation of the new EU directive.
“We believe that each case should be examined on its own merits, in respect to serving the public interest, freedom of the press and free expression. In any case, where it is deemed necessary, the personal data of the litigants may be safeguarded by the supreme court, but the essence of a court decision should be available to the public.”
CNA contacted data protection commissioner Irini Loizidou Nicolaidou, but she declined to comment pending the supreme court’s final determination on the matter.