ECtHR: Damages for Privacy Violation by Video Surveillance at University

On 28 November 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that the video surveillance installed at the University of Montenegro’s School of Mathematics in areas where two professors taught, had amounted to an interference with their right to privacy. The ECtHR awarded significant non-pecuniary damages to each professor.
This ECtHR decision will be of significance for compensation under the new data protection regime in the EU because regarding the protection of the right to privacy  the case law of the Court of the European Union (CJEU) has been intertwined and aligned with the case law of the ECtHR (see Boehm/Andrees, CR 2016, 146-154). As of May 2018, data subjects will have a right to compensation for "non-material damage" suffered as a result of a GDPR infringement, Art. 82 (1) GDPR (see also Recitals 85 and 146 GDPR). 


In February 2011 the dean of the School of Mathematics announced that he had decided to install surveillance cameras in several areas, including the auditoriums where classes were held. A decision issued later the same month specified that the measure was to protect people and property and to monitor teaching.


The ECtHR found that the camera surveillance had not been in accordance with the law and that there had been a violation of Article 8 ECHR.

The ECtHR noted that it had held in previous judgments that the notion of private life may include professional activities or activities taking place in a public context and observed that
university amphitheatres were teachers’ workplaces, where they not only taught but interacted with students, developing relationships and constructing their social identity. It had previously found covert video surveillance at work to be an intrusion into an employee’s private life and saw no reason to depart from that finding as far as non-covert surveillance at a workplace was concerned. As a consequence, the private life of the two professors had been at stake and the video surveillance had amounted to an interference with their rights.

Just satisfaction (Article 41 ECHR)

The ECtHR held by four votes to three that Montenegro was to pay the applicants 1,000 euros (EUR) each Professor in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,669.50 in respect of costs and expenses.

"Camera surveillance of lecture halls in Montenegro violated professors’ right to privacy", Press Release, ECHR 365 (2017) of 28 November 2017

ECtHR, Judgment, case of ANTOVIĆ AND MIRKOVIĆ v. MONTENEGRO (Application no. 70838/13) 28 November 2017

Verlag Dr. Otto Schmidt vom 05.12.2017 15:42

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