Schrems: Decision Due Next Week

So much for the dust settling…

The CJEU has confirmed that it will be delivering its final judgement on the Schrems decision next Tuesday, 6th October at 9.30am.   The decisions will come less than two weeks after Advocate General Bot gave his opinion declaring the Safe Harbor as an “invalid” basis on which personal data can be transferred to the US.

This is, of course, the decision on the referral from the Irish Court of whether the existence of the Commission’s agreement with the US on Safe Harbor prevented the Irish Data Protection Commissioner from investigating Mr Schrems’ complaint that his information was not “adequately protected” in the US.

The implications of the CJEU decision are potentially very significant as Safe Harbor is the basis on which millions of dollars worth of transatlantic commerce is undertaken on a daily basis.

The unusual speed at which the CJEU’s decision is following the AG opinion will lead to speculation that the Court will simply follow the opinion.  But could it be that the Court recognises that the opinion has opened the stable door and the Court wants to shut it before the horse blots?

In a war of words since the opinion was given, the US mission to the European Union has defended Safe Harbor saying “rests on numerous inaccurate assertions about intelligence practices of the United States”.  It has also encouraged the CJEU to carefully consider “the far-reaching consequences of the Advocate General’s opinion, as well as the significant harm to the protection of individual rights and the free flow of information that would occur if it were to follow the Advocate General’s opinion.”

We won’t have to wait long to find out if the Court will do.

In the meantime, companies do not have very long to carefully look at where it, or its customers, rely on Safe Harbor and start considering contingencies in the event the CJEU follows it AG’s opinion.