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Robertson v Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, Queen's Bench Division, 16 November 2001

3 December 2001
The issues

Sale of electoral register by local authority – authority refusing to remove voters name – whether breach of Human Rights.

The facts

The local authority had sold the information contained on the electoral register to a commercial organisation. They refused to remove the Claimant’s name from the register as supplied to the commercial organisation. He alleged that the refusal were in breach of his rights under Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Article 3 of the First Protocol.

The decision

The local authority had the duty of preparing and publishing a register of parliamentary and local government electors annually. They were required to supply a copy to any person on payment of a fee. There was no provision in the Representation of the People Regulations 2001 for registers to be edited. Domestic law therefore failed to comply with Article 14 (the right to object) of Directive 95/46/EC on data protection.

It was foreseeable that the sale of the Register would effect electors in that they would become marketing targets. The practise of selling the register to commercial concerns without forwarding individual electors the right of objection was a disproportionate way of giving effects to the legitimate objective of retaining a commercially available register. The Claimant’s Article 8 rights were therefore breached. Moreover if the regulations made the right to vote conditional upon the name appearing on the register with no individual right of objection they would contravene Article 3 of the first protocol.

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