Access to declarations of assets and income
Declaration of assets
Assets and income
Right to protection of privacy and personal and family life
Principle of transparency
RULING Nº 514/94
22 of September of 1994
The Court refused to authorise the examination of the declaration of assets and income produced by the President of the Republic, even though the applicant (in the present case the editor of a weekly newspaper) had secured the latter's consent, as the request was based mainly on that consent.
The duty of the Court in granting authorisation to consult declarations of assets is, in each case, to settle potential conflicts of interest between the person making the declaration (i.e. the public office holder) and the third party (public body or private citizen) that wishes to examine the declaration in question. The Court's intervention (and authorisation) are no longer meaningful or justified if a potential conflict of interests does not exist: for example in cases where the public office holder himself allows the third party to have access to the said declaration (which he can always hand over to the interested party).
Under Act 4/83 of 2 April persons holding public office are required to submit a declaration of assets and income to the Constitutional Court at the beginning and end of their term of office (Article 120 of the Constitution).
The competence of the Court in such matters is not judicial but administrative (the filing of documents) and is determined by law (not by the Constitution, according to which its competence is «open», as the Constitutional Court has other duties attributed to it by law).
Access to declarations is limited as third parties must prove to the Court that their reason for wishing to consult the declaration is legitimate. The Court will then take into account the need to safeguard the right to private and family life.
The Court's case-law demands that the legitimate interest in consulting such declarations be clearly justified.
In the present case, it was the first time the Court had been required to rule upon the value of the authorisation granted by the public office holder himself.
Judgment no. 515/94 confirms the case-law as it refuses journalists the right to use the person's consent as justification for consulting the declarations. The request was similar: it was submitted by the editor of another weekly newspaper and concerned approximately ten holders of various public offices (who, either in writing or in public declarations, had also authorised access to the declarations they had submitted to the Court).