By decision of today, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig referred questions to the ECJ on the interpretation of Art. 23 para. 1(j) and (e) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In the underlying legal dispute, an insolvency administrator sought access to tax data of the insolvency debtor from the competent tax office on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The tax office rejected the application; the plaintiff was successful before the Administrative Court and the Higher Administrative Court. The defendant state contests this in its appeal, which was allowed by the Higher Administrative Court.
During the revision procedure, the Tax Code was also amended in connection with the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation and the resulting necessary adjustments to national law; the new provisions must be taken into account in this case. The focus is now on, among other things, the provision of Section 32e of the German Fiscal Code (AO), which regulates the relationship to the claims for access to information under the Freedom of Information Acts of the Federation and the Länder, and the – based on Art. 23 (1) of the German Federal Act on the Freedom of Information of the Federal Republic of Germany (AO). 1 letter j of the GDPR – exclusion of Section 32c (1) of the German Data Protection Act. 1 No. 2 AO. Adapting the Tax Code is only required under EU law for the data protection (information) rights of natural persons. However, in view of the regulatory objective of the national legislator to create a uniform tax procedural law for all tax debtors and types of tax and to subject the claims for access to information to this law, a “split” interpretation of these provisions for matters subject to Union law on the one hand and matters not subject to Union law on the other hand is ruled out. In order to ensure a uniform interpretation of Union law, the proceedings must therefore be stayed and referred to the ECJ for clarification of the questions whether Art. 23 para. 1(j) of the GDPR also serves to protect the interests of tax authorities, the “enforcement of civil claims” within the meaning of this provision also covers the defense of tax authorities against civil claims for avoidance in insolvency or the assertion thereof, or a limitation of the right of access under Article 15 of the GDPR for this purpose to Article 23(1)(j) of the GDPR. 1 letter e DSGVO can be based.