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Uni.lu Law professor develops winning arguments in CJEU Schrems II

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Published on Friday, 17 July 2020

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) published its verdict in the Schrems II case on 16 July 2020. The judgement has far reaching consequences for international data protection and the future structure of the internet. 

Herwig Hofmann, Professor of European and Transnational Law at the University of Luxembourg, has worked with Max Schrems and his NGO for many years, representing him in prior CJEU cases

The case dates back to a complaint made in 2013 by then law student Max Schrems to the Irish Data Protection authority (DPC). Schrems claimed that Facebook failed to adequately protect users’ data transferred from the EU to the US against foreign mass surveillance. The (DPC) is the European regulator in charge of Facebook. According to the CJEU the DPC had the option of interrupting the transfer of data to the US. Instead, the Irish authority initially refused to act because of the European Commission had issued a decision (‘Safe Harbor’ decision) stating that the US offered adequate protection.

After the CJEU invalidated the Safe Harbour decision in the Schrems I case in October 2015, the Court has now invalidated the Commission’s follow-up decision, the so called ‘Privacy Shield’. In both cases the CJEU sided with the arguments put forward for Schrems by Professor Hofmann, upholding standards of protection of fundamental rights of individuals, the relevance of effective judicial remedies and the importance of enforcement of EU law by national authorities, to be adhered to in various alternative forms of data transfer (so called ‘standard contract clauses’).

Working with Max Schrems, Professor Hofmann has in the past years managed to create a positive feed-back loop bringing results of research in enforcement of EU law into the CJEU. He contributes also to the development of EU law such as in the fields of privacy, data protection, the meaning of independent courts and standards of control of public surveillance of European citizens, inspiring law students to think creatively about rights protection and strategic argumentation.

“This work not only feeds into teaching fundamental rights, the law of information and European litigation at the University of Luxembourg”, said Hofmann “but also informs multi-national and transdisciplinary research projects on information law such as the Horizon2020 project INDIGO (INformation in the EU’s DIgitalised Governance), and the new Doctoral Training Unit DILLAN (Digitalisation, Law and Innovation), which is funded through an FNR Pride Grant”.


Read the official press release from the CJEU detailing the decision.