Procedural rights – Access to the file: scope of the right to access and restrictions
Article(s) involved (national, EU, or other):
Member States have divergent approaches in terms of granting access to (procedural) documents to the parties. For exmaple, some SAs unilaterally decide that some documents or parts of documents should be confidential, sometimes without any clear legal basis. Some SAs also bar access to the file by arguing that the complainant cannot be considered a party to the procedure (including in the event of ex officio procedures initiated on the basis of a complaint).
The text should harmonise the rules concerning access to the file in the various stages of the procedure before the national SA, the CSA, the LSA, and the EDPB.
As a general rule, the complainant should be able to access all documents to rebut the submissions of the controllers and processors, or the opinions of the SAs.
Exceptions to this general rule can exist when the file contains confidential information but should be interpreted restrictively, in light of the right to access and the right to be heard of the parties. The text should clearly define these exceptions.
Also, rather than not communicating the file at all because of the confidential nature of some information, the SAs should provide at least a redacted copy excluding such confidential information (e.g; trade secrets, IP-protected material, personal data, etc).
Concept 2 should take care of this matter, as the national law of the relevant CSA/LSA applies, but the minimum guarantees of Article 41 CFR has to