Courts Service breached data law by publishing man’s name

The judge had included the man’s name in his ruling but ordered he not be identified

The man complained to the Courts Service and the Data Protection Commissioner about what had happened.

The man complained to the Courts Service and the Data Protection Commissioner about what had happened.

 

The Courts Service was guilty of a data protection breach when it published a man’s name in a High Court judgment contrary to an order made by the judge who both made the order and wrote the judgment.

The High Court case concerned matters linked to an investigation into sexual abuse. The judge ordered that the identity of a man who was a notice party to the proceedings, should not be revealed.

However, in his subsequent judgment, the judge included the man’s name in both the title and content of his ruling.

The 2014 ruling was then published by the Courts Service on its website, and circulated to libraries that keep judgment databases. The man’s name ended up appearing in the Irish Medical Times.

When the mistake was brought to the attention of the service, the ruling was taken down.

The High Court judge then supplied a new version of the judgment, which did not include the man’s name in the title. However this second version still contained the man’s name in the content of the ruling.

This second version was not posted on the Court Service website. A final version of the judgment was eventually published some months later, with the process being delayed by the judge’s retirement.

The man complained to the Courts Service and the Data Protection Commissioner about what had happened, and the Data Protection Commissioner ruled that there had been a breach of the data protection laws. The Courts Service then appealed this decision to the Circuit Court.

Earlier this week Judge Francis Comerford found in favour of the Data Protection Commissioner. Solicitor Fred Logue, who represented the man in the case, said his client was now considering the ruling.