German court decides what can be the first decision on non-material damages under the GDPR

In November 2018, a German local court, the Amtsgericht Diez, decided on a claim for immaterial damages under Art. 82.1, GDPR. 

According to this source, on May 25, 2018, Plaintiff received an e-mail in which Plaintiff’s consent to receive a newsletter was requested. An email of this sort is considered spam under German law and also a GDPR violation.

Defendant voluntarily paid € 50.00 to compensate Plaintiff for the violation. Plaintiff sought further € 500.00 under Art. 82.1, GDPR, claiming an unspecified, immaterial damage she incurred by receiving the email.

The German court denied the claim, deeming that Plaintiff had already received due compensation. The Court reasons that

“On one hand, a serious violation of a personality right is no longer required. On the other hand, we should not grant  non material damage for a trivial violation without a serious discomfort or for an unmanifested individual feeling; rather, the person concerned must have suffered a noticeable disadvantage and we must deal with somewhat weighty and objective identifiable impairment of a personal interest.” (unofficial translation by the authors).  

If a viable claim  for non material damage existed here, found the Court, the € 50.00 payment already covered any possible non-material damage under Article 82.1 of the GDPR. At the end of the day, said the Court, Plaintiff here complained of a single email that she received on May 25, 2018, the  same day in which the GDPR started to be applicable. For those reasons the Court found that a further compensation for non-material damages with reference to an email  requesting consent to send a newsletter was not appropriate.

The Court decided not to submit to the ECJ any preliminary question concerning an appropriate quantification of non-material damages under the GDPR.

More on the decision dated November 7, 18, in case number 8 C 130/18 is available  at… (in German) and…  (in German)

The decision in German here

For more information and assistance on privacy, data protection, and GDPR, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal and Federica Romanelli.

Photo by Flavio Amiel on Unsplash