Romania – European Court of Human Rights rules no violation of convention in a case of access to correspondence
Published 1 February 2016
What does this cover?
In the case Barbulescu v Romania the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) ruled that there was no violation of Article 8 of the Convention (the right to respect for private and family life) in a case of an employer accessing the correspondence of his employee.
In this particular case the employer accessed the Yahoo Messenger account of his employee which was created upon the instructions of the employer and was meant to be used for business purposes only according to internal regulations. The employee had been using the account for personal purposes.
The ECHR held that a fair balance had to be struck between the respect of private life and correspondence of the employee and the employer's interests, further noting that the employer had acted in accordance with the disciplinary powers provided by the Labor Code. Moreover the employer accessed the applicant's account in the belief that it had contained professional messages, since the employee stated that he had used it only to advise clients. Therefore the employer acted on the assumption that the information from the Yahoo Messenger account was related to professional activities and as such access was legitimate.
It was held not to be unreasonable for an employer to verify that the employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours. In addition, the ECHR took the view that the content of the communications was not a decisive element in the domestic courts' filings. Only the communications from the Yahoo Account were examined and the ECHR found that the employer's monitoring was limited in scope and proportionate.
To view the judgment of the ECHR, please click here.
Article submitted by Iurie Cojocaru – Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen – Bucharest, Romania
What action could be taken to manage risks that may arise from this development?
None - for information only.