Concept 7: Joint case file, use of language, translations and length of documents
Currently, the case files are “siloed” before each SA. There is no “joint file” in procedures under Article 60 to 66 GDPR. This causes major delays until CSAs and EDPB staff can, for the first time, read the relevant case files. It also leads to unanswered requests for access to documents by SAs, as well as different information for the parties in different jurisdictions. There have been reports that documents sent via the IMI get lost or cannot be tracked. There is no use of existing APIs to automatically import documents in national case management systems. A joint European file, consisting of a joint system with all relevant documents of the case, could eliminate these issues.
Currently the GDPR does not specify the use of languages. The matter was partly moved to the rules of the IMI, where it is demanded that all communication is undertaken in English. Many SAs only use automated translations, which are often useful and efficient, but especially relay translations (e.g. Slovakian to English, English to German) with poor quality translations can lead to documents that are not understandable anymore and therefore undermine the right to be heard. A joint file could include a function for direct translations (e.g. Slovak to German and English) with high quality language models. The Regulation could include rules as to the translating SA having to certify the correct translation (e.g. proofread automated translations), as a middle ground between efficient automated translations and ensuring a minimum standard. Parties could get the right to access the original documents to have the option to verify translations and find errors, which is currently impossible. The need to translate documents properly is closely related to the volume of documents. In an equal situation, the CJEU has limited the length of submissions in rules of procedure (e.g. 20 or 30 pages), to ensure that translations are achievable in practice. It would be an option to have the SAs or EDPB set such rules for cross-country procedures, as some SAs and national procedural traditions have a tendency to produce extremely lengthy documents that cause very long delays for translations. For example, the German BfDI used human translations for Irish documents, resulting in at least two months of delays just for the translation of minor submissions. The Regulation could allow for a legal basis for such procedural rules that could be adapted by the EDPB on an ongoing basis.
- A joint file would limit: the need to exchange documents via the IMI; the options for SAs to withhold documents; and the need of the EDPB to ensure that a file is “complete”. It would also ensure that SAs are not overwhelmed with a last minute “drop” of a huge file when a draft decision is issued by the LSA.
- Officially recognising automated translations as an option may facilitate faster and more efficient processes, while also ensuring a minimum quality of such approaches. In addition, ensuring that all language versions are provided would ensure transparency.
- Limitations on the length of documents would limit the right to be heard, however such limitations are rather common and may ensure that all parties focus their submissions more.
- Compared to the current practice of some SAs the need to verify translation would cause additional work, as they currently do not seem to verify if automated translations are readable.