Is there a public interest in knowing what is going on in society? A comparative study of the European Courts

Maija Dahlberg, Daniel Wyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Both of the European courts, namely the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union, have well-established case law on the public’s right of access to official documents. The core of the right is the same in both of the courts’ jurisdictions but the interpretations concerning the breadth of the right are very different. One fundamental reason for the public’s right of access to information being understood differently by each of these courts is their divergent approaches to the assessment of the public interest associated with an individual’s request for information. While the ECtHR openly evaluates the public interest or interests involved in the disclosure of an official document, the CJEU gives this factor little or no weight. In this article, our main argument is that CJEU should follow the ECtHR’s interpretation of the public interest in order to give the right of access to documents the same scope in both legal regimes and, in doing so, fulfil the requirements stemming from Article 52(3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMaastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)691-712
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 513 Law
  • access to documents
  • transparency
  • the European Court of Human Rights
  • the Court of Justice of the European Union
  • public interest

Cite this