Privacy and data protection vs public access to entrepreneurs’ personal data. Score 2:0: How did the ECJ balance the rights to privacy and data protection against transparency of Ultimate Beneficial Owners registries in WM and Sovim SA v Luxembourg Business Registers?

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Abstract

While the eyes of the world are on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the highest referee in the European Union (EU) – the Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ), sitting as the Grand Chamber – ruled in favour of privacy and data protection of the ultimate beneficial owners (UBO) of corporate entities, whose fundamental rights were infringed by one of the provisions of the EU secondary law. In judgment WM and Sovim SA v Luxembourg Business Registers (joined Cases C‑37/20 and C‑601/20) delivered on 22 November 2022, in the preliminary reference procedure, the ECJ struck down a provision of the EU Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) legal framework, which since early 2020 required a considerable amount of information about UBOs to be accessible to the general public. In the view of the Court, the access in all cases of any member of the general public to such information constitutes a serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and the right to the protection of personal data, enshrined respectively in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR), which is neither limited to what is strictly necessary nor, as one can infer from the reasoning of the Court, proportionate to the objective pursued (paras 44, 76 and 77 read jointly with 85 and 86).
Original languageEnglish
Place of Publicationhttps://europeanlawblog.eu/
PublisherEuropean Law Blog
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • AML/CFT
  • DATA PROTECTION
  • PRIVACY
  • CJEU
  • Human Rights
  • Transparency

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