Wednesday, October 4, 2017
On October 3, after a hearing which ran for 21 days, Ireland's High Court announced that it would refer the challenge brought by Max Schrems to Facebook's use of standard contractual clauses as the legal basis for transferring personal data to the US to the Court of Justice of the European Union. An earlier complaint by Schrems led to the CJEU's October 2015 finding that the Safe Harbor adequacy decision reached by the European Commission was invalid. The Irish DPA, Helen Dixon, had asked the High Court to make the referral, after concluding that Schrems had raised "well-founded" objections to the transfer of his personal data to the US. Both Schrems and Facebook had argued that no CJEU referral was necessary, albeit for different reasons. On the one hand, Schrems held that standard contractual clauses are "perfectly valid" and that Dixon had sufficient information and powers to suspend the data transfers herself. Facebook, on the other hand, contended that there are sufficiently robust protections in place under standard contractual clauses and US law to provide adequate protection to transferred data. The formal referral to the CJEU will occur only after High Court has determined the precise questions to be put before the EU's highest court.