The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the right to be forgotten does not generally apply to personal data within a company register.

Mr Manni, a company director, sought to restrict information about being sole director of a company that went bankrupt in 1992 and later wound up in 2005. He believed this information was affecting his current ability to sell tourist properties. An Italian court on appeal asked the ECJ if personal data on a company register, could after a certain period and on request, be anonymised, deleted or restricted to third parties with a legitimate party.

The ECJ ruled that individuals are generally not entitled to the removal of personal information from a company register. In its decision it noted that company registers are required to provide legal certainty in dealings between companies and third parties and to protect the interests of third parties. It held that this was not a disproportionate interference with the rights of individuals.

The court recognised that situations requiring this information to be available may exist for years following such an event and so it is not possible to identify a fixed time period rule. The Court did state that this will not always be the case. A case-by-case assessment should be taken as certain circumstances may exceptionally mean that access to such data should be limited following expiry of a long time frame after a company's dissolution. Mr Manni's case was not considered an exception as potential purchasers had a legitimate interest to know about the previous insolvency.

Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato e Agricoltura de Lecce v Salvatore Manni, Case C-398/15, 9 March 2017

Click here for the press release provided by the ECJ.