Privacy Advisor

Global Privacy Dispatches- France- Litigation Data

November 1, 2008

By Pascale Gelly

Transfer of litigation data considered litigious

In a litigation opposing the insurance commissioner of the State of California and the French insurance company MAAF, a French attorney sought to obtain for his U.S. client information from a former member of the MAAF's board of directors on the conditions under which board decisions were made about the purchase of Executive Life.
This attorney was sentenced (10.000 euros) for having infringed the so-called French blocking statute of 26 July 1968 (decision confirmed by the French Supreme Court). This statute sets forth a prohibition on requesting, seeking, or communicating, in writing, verbally, or by any other means, any documents or information of an economic, commercial, industrial, financial, or technical nature to be used as evidence in foreign court or administrative proceedings subject to international treaties or agreements and applicable laws and regulations.

This "blocking statute" is another obstacle to the transfer of litigation data abroad, to be added to data transfer restrictions under data protection laws. As announced in an earlier "Global Privacy Dispatch," the CNIL has brought to the attention of the French government that French businesses are often required to transfer data to the U.S. in the framework of pending or potential litigations. The CNIL is working on the matter in the framework of the Article 29 Working Party to issue guidance.