On November 21, 2012, the UK Supreme Court handed down a judgment in The Rugby Football Union vs. Consolidated Information Services Limited (Formerly Viagogo Limited), a case addressing the application of Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Protection of Personal Data) in the context of court orders seeking to disclose the identities of alleged wrongdoers.
The respondent in the appeal, the Rugby Football Union (the “Union”), is responsible for issuing tickets to matches at Twickenham Stadium. Since one of the Union’s goals is to maintain affordable ticket prices, the terms and conditions printed on tickets clearly stipulate that tickets may not be re-sold above face value. The applicant in the appeal formerly operated a ticket re-sale website, Viagogo Limited (“Viagogo”). When the Union discovered that tickets with a face value of £20-£55 were being offered for up to £1,300 on Viagogo, it sought to learn the identities of the anonymous users involved in the proposed sales. Because Viagogo refused to provide the relevant user information, the Union obtained a court order requiring Viagogo to disclose the users’ identities.
Viagogo appealed the order on the grounds that granting the disclosure disproportionately interfered with the affected users’ data protection rights under Article 8 of the EU Charter. The Supreme Court ruled that orders for disclosure regarding anonymous alleged wrongdoers may only be granted if it is necessary, and proportionate given the circumstances, to do justice in the case. The particular circumstances of the individuals whose identities will be revealed must be considered and weighed against the applicant’s need to discover the alleged wrongdoers’ identities in order to seek remedies against them. In this case, the Supreme Court did not consider it disproportionate to disclose the names and addresses of individuals who had bought and re-sold tickets in clear breach of the ticket’s terms and conditions of sale.