The case concerned a State agency’s collection of medical data about the applicant, L.H., a Latvian national, born in 1975. At the relevant time, the Inspectorate of Quality Control for Medical Care and Fitness for Work (“the MADEKKI”) was the institution responsible for monitoring the quality of medical care provided in medical institutions.
The applicant gave birth in 1997. A Caesarian section was used, in the course of which, a tubal ligation was performed without the applicant’s consent, resulting in sterilisation. Following an unsuccessful attempt to achieve an out-of-court settlement, the applicant brought civil proceedings against the hospital in February 2005 and, in December 2006, was awarded compensation for the unlawful sterilisation.
In the meantime, in February 2004, on request by the hospital’s director, the MADEKKI initiated an administrative inquiry concerning the gynaecological and childbirth assistance provided to the applicant from 1996 to 2003. The MADEKKI received medical files from three medical institutions. In May 2004, it issued a report containing sensitive medical details about the applicant and sent the summary of its conclusions to the hospital director.
The applicant lodged a claim before the administrative courts, complaining that the MADEKKI inquiry had been unlawful, in particular since its essential purpose had been to help the hospital gather evidence for the impending litigation, which was outside the MADEKKI’s remit. The applicant’s claim was rejected by the Administrative District Court in a decision eventually upheld by the Senate of the Supreme Court in February 2007. The Senate of the Supreme Court based its reasoning on the applicable domestic legal framework, namely the Medical Treatment Law, the Personal Data Protection Law and the statute of the MADEKKI.
It concluded the MADEKKI was authorised to collect and process the applicant’s sensitive data in order to monitor the quality of medical care and that the Personal Data Protection Law permitted the processing of sensitive personal data without written consent from the data subject for the purposes of medical treatment or the provision or administration of health care services.
The applicant appealed to the ECtHR, complaining that the MADEKKI, by collecting her personal medical data, had violated her rights under Article 8 of the Convention. The Government of Latvia argued that the MADEKKI assessment had been ordered to determine whether the doctor who had performed the tubal ligation had committed any crime and that had any violations of the applicable legislation been found, it would have helped to prevent similar situations from arising in the future. Thus the purpose of collecting the applicant’s personal data had been to protect public health and the rights and freedoms of others.