Moscow City Court upheld the right of lawyers to have access to personal data of not their clients only

24 December 2014

On December 24, 2014 the Board of Appeals of the Moscow City Court upheld the legality of the earlier made by Meshchansky District Court of Moscow (Judge Zholudova T.V.) decision, in which there had been, dismissed the claim of Potanina N.N. to Closed Joint-Stock Company (CJSC) «InterrosEstate».

In its claim, Ms. Potanina asked the court to acknowledge illegal handing over by her former employer — CJSC «InterrosEstate» (Ms. Potanin worked as the president of the said company from 2001 to 2007) of a copy of her employment record book and receipts confirming its obtaining to the lawyer of Mr. Potanin V.O.., with whom the plaintiff is in the process of long proceedings concerning the division of joint property. Meshchansky District Court of Moscow dismissed the claim of Ms. Potanina, considering that the transfer of documents containing her personal data has been lawfully carried out by the former employer on the request of the Lawyer of Mr. Potanin.

This decision, now upheld by the appeal instance of the Moscow City Court, is a definite turning point in the approach of courts to the status of a lawyer’s request stipulated by paragraph 1 of part 3 of Article 6 of the Federal Law dated 31.05.2002, No. 63-FZ «On Advocacy in the Russian Federation».

Previously, courts in their practice proceeded from the fact that the right of lawyers to obtain information and documents on the lawyer’s request does not apply to personal information of third parties who are not clients of the lawyer.

Thus, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in its supervisory Determination of May 12, 2010 No. 49-V10-5 stated the position that the provision of information on personal data of a person on the Lawyer’s request is not provided for by the federal legislation, and recognized in Article 6 of the Federal Law On Advocacy in the Russian Federation" dated May 31, 2002 No. 63-FZ the lawyer’ right to collect the data necessary for the provision of legal aid, and the obligation of the relevant body to provide such information, does not apply to established by law confidential information.

A similar position is held by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, in its Determination dated September 29, 2011 No. 1063-O-O where the position is stated that the applicant when the court is considering a particular case involving his/her truster is not precluded from addressing to the court with a petition for demanding of the evidence, including data containing confidential information.

Earlier, lawyers, including publications in specialized printed media (eg. Bulletin of the Federal Chamber of Advocates of the Russian Federation, 2014, № 1), acknowledged the existence of such a restriction. However, the decision of Meshchansky District Court of Moscow concerning the claim of Potanina now upheld by the Moscow City Court may alter this practice and authorize the Lawyers’ access to personal data of third parties on the basis of lawyers’requests.