On April 28, 2022, the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) decided that consumer protection associations may bring collective claims without a mandate from the affected consumers, including for violations of the GDPR, relying on national consumer law provisions.  The words “without a mandate” refers to the fact that the organization is not representing a particular consumer or group of consumers, rather, it is representing the collective interests of those whose personal data have been processed in a manner contrary to the GDPR, without naming particular data subjects.

The CJEU was asked by a German court whether a consumer organization could rely on a consumer law provision allowing collective claims without a mandate, in order to seek an injunction for violations of the GDPR.  According to the CJEU, this is compatible with Article 80(2) of the GDPR.  However, the CJEU pointed out that consumer organizations may only initiate collective claims without a mandate where this option is provided for under EU Member State law.

The CJEU clarified that where that is the case, it is sufficient if the consumer organization:

  • identifies the category or group of data subjects affected by the processing; and
  • demonstrates that the data processing that infringes the GDPR is likely to affect the data subjects’ rights under the GDPR, without needing to prove actual harm suffered by a data subject.

Finally, the CJEU emphasized that an infringement of the GDPR may at the same time give rise to an infringement of EU rules on consumer protection for unfair commercial practices.  It is probably not a coincidence that in less than a month (on May 28, 2022), the new EU consumer protection rules will begin to apply.  These new rules aim to ensure effective and harmonized enforcement by setting maximum fines of at least 4% for widespread infringements that affect consumers in several EU Member States.  Member States will be able to provide for higher maximum fines.

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The team at Covington has gathered extensive expertise in EU data privacy law and EU consumer law and is well-positioned to provide advice on both laws.

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Photo of Dan Cooper Dan Cooper

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing…

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing clients in regulatory proceedings before privacy authorities in Europe and counseling them on their global compliance and government affairs strategies. Dan regularly lectures on the topic, and was instrumental in drafting the privacy standards applied in professional sport.

According to Chambers UK, his “level of expertise is second to none, but it’s also equally paired with a keen understanding of our business and direction.” It was noted that “he is very good at calibrating and helping to gauge risk.”

Dan is qualified to practice law in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Belgium. He has also been appointed to the advisory and expert boards of privacy NGOs and agencies, such as Privacy International and the European security agency, ENISA.

Photo of Kristof Van Quathem Kristof Van Quathem

Kristof Van Quathem advises clients on information technology matters and policy, with a focus on data protection, cybercrime and various EU data-related initiatives, such as the Data Act, the AI Act and EHDS.

Kristof has been specializing in this area for over twenty…

Kristof Van Quathem advises clients on information technology matters and policy, with a focus on data protection, cybercrime and various EU data-related initiatives, such as the Data Act, the AI Act and EHDS.

Kristof has been specializing in this area for over twenty years and developed particular experience in the life science and information technology sectors. He counsels clients on government affairs strategies concerning EU lawmaking and their compliance with applicable regulatory frameworks, and has represented clients in non-contentious and contentious matters before data protection authorities, national courts and the Court of the Justice of the EU.

Kristof is admitted to practice in Belgium.

Photo of Anna Oberschelp de Meneses Anna Oberschelp de Meneses

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate…

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate international data protection law projects.  She has obtained a certificate for “corporate data protection officer” by the German Association for Data Protection and Data Security (“Gesellschaft für Datenschutz und Datensicherheit e.V.”). She is also Certified Information Privacy Professional Europe (CIPPE/EU) by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).  Anna also advises companies in the field of EU consumer law and has been closely tracking the developments in this area.  Her extensive language skills allow her to monitor developments and help clients tackle EU Data Privacy, Cybersecurity and Consumer Law issues in various EU and ROW jurisdictions.