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Digital Rights Ireland case

2006 No. 3785P










UPDATE (27/6/2008)

Digital Rights Ireland Ltd. has taken a case against the Irish Government as seen HERE.

DRI has brought an application to the High Court to seek a ruling from the ECJ on an EU law issue. The state has responded with its motion challenging DRI’s right to bring the proceedings. The Irish Human Rights Commission has applied for leave to make submissions in the proceedings. These Motions will (it is believed) be heard in the High Court on 1st July 2008. See the letter to Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering for the context for this.

Our Ref;EMcG Your Ref; 24th June 2008

Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering
European Parliament,
Paul Henri Spaak building

Dear President,

1. I am the lawyer for Digital Rights Ireland Ltd. (“DRIâ€?). DRI is a corporate body established to protect and vindicate the civil and human rights of mobile phone users in Ireland. DRI has issued proceedings in the Irish High Court to challenge the validity of aspects of Ireland’s data retention legislation. (“The DRI proceedingsâ€?).

2. I write to you, as a matter of urgency, because an aspect of that legislation is the subject matter of proceedings between, inter alia, Ireland and the European Parliament in the European Court of Justice. (C-301/06: Ireland v Council and Parliament “The ECJ proceedingsâ€?) Those proceedings are now listed for hearing on 1st July 2008.

3. As you probably know, the Irish High Court is empowered to rule on the validity of European Union law, where the matter is acte clair. DRI is seeking, among other things, a ruling or rulings from the High Court on the validity of Directive 2006/24/EC.

4. Because, in the opinion of DRI, that matter is not acte clair, DRI has requested a reference by the High Court to the European Court of Justice on the validity of Directive 2006/24/EC.

5. DRI understands that the validity of Directive 2006/24/EC is the issue in the ECJ proceedings.

6. However, DRI perceives that DRI and Ireland do not agree as to why Directive 2006/24/EC is invalid. Ireland, it is understood, believes it is invalid because it was adopted at a meeting of the Council of Ministers following a vote against it by Ireland. Ireland is of the view (as is DRI) that Ireland’s vote was a veto vote. Ireland believes this because the subject matter for decision in the Council of Ministers was a “Third Pillarâ€? issue. Unanimity is required for such issues; there was none.

7. DRI believes that the grounds of invalidity of Directive 2006/24/EC are wider than that. Ireland does not agree, it appears, (given certain actions and expressions of view of Ireland).

8. DRI believes that the basis for a determination of the invalidity of Directive 2006/24/EC, by the European Court of Justice, is a very important matter. DRI wishes to ensure that the European Court of Justice has the benefit of a full examination of all the reasons why Directive 2006/24/EC is invalid.

9. DRI will shortly obtain a hearing by the High Court of its application for a reference to the ECJ. It is opposed by Ireland in its pleadings. Ireland has also objected to the High Court hearing submissions from the Irish Human Rights Commission on the issues that DRI has brought to the Court.

10. What is now clear is that, failing intervention, the hearing of the ECJ proceedings on 1st July 2008 will precede the DRI proceedings in the High Court in Dublin. That means that the ECJ will be deprived of the full examination of the reasons why Directive 2006/24/EC is invalid.

11. If DRI is successful in Dublin it will be anxious to ensure its proceedings, under the High Court reference, are heard before or at the same time as the ECJ proceedings. The European Parliament is a respondent in the ECJ proceedings. It is open to the EP to apply to the ECJ for an adjournment of those proceedings pending the outcome of the DRI proceedings in Dublin.

12. I write to you to ask you to procure the making of that application to the ECJ.

13. The benefits will be substantial, legally and politically. The perception of the European Union as a legal institution will be enhanced. The opportunity for the ECJ to rule on what is a human rights issue will be secured. The anxiety of the European Parliament to protect human rights will be demonstrated.

14. DRI’s objectives are supported by groups across Europe including: Privacy International, the European Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, the Czech civil rights group Iuridicum Remedium, Digital Rights (Denmark), the Belgian Liga voor de Mensenrechten (“League for Human Rightsâ€?), Electronic Frontier Finland, the UK Open Rights Group, the Italian group, ALCEI (“Electronic Frontiers Italyâ€?), the French IRIS, the Internet Society – Bulgaria, German groups netzwerk Neue Medien (“New Media networkâ€?) and FITUG (Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft e.V.), and the Austrian groups VIBE!AT (“Austrian Association for Internet Usersâ€?) and Quintessenz.

15. I am ready to furnish any further details or information you may wish to have. The Chairman of DRI and I will readily travel to meet you if you require.

16. For obvious reasons the matter is urgent and I await hearing from you by return.

Yours Faithfully,

Edward McGarr
McGarr Solicitors

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] writing, no reply has been received from Hans-Gert Pottering, the President of the EU Parliament to the letter McGarr Solicitors sent to him. […]

  2. […] writing, no reply has been received from Hans-Gert Pottering, the President of the EU Parliament to the letter McGarr Solicitors sent to him. […]