Division I of the Federal Courts of Appeals in Civil and Commercial Matters of the City of Buenos Aires determined that National Courts on Commercial Matters have jurisdiction in habeas data actions over personal data held by financial entities.
In re "R., N. R. v. Banco Santander Rio et al. re/ habeas data (article 43, c.n.)", (Docket No. 1852/2016), the plaintiff filed a habeas data action against Banco Santander Río S.A. and Comafi Fiduciario Financiero S.A. seeking the removal of the historic and current information published on the "financial system debtors" database of the Central Bank. The plaintiff claimed for compensation of alleged non-material damages arising from being included in the debtors' database of the Central Bank. This action was founded on section 43 of the Argentine Constitution and on the Personal Data Protection Law No. 25, 326 ("PDPL").
The lawsuit was filed with the Federal Court in Civil and Commercial Matters, which rejected the case and ruled that the National Justice in Commercial Matters had jurisdiction to hear the case. The Court of Appeals in Civil and Commercial Matters confirmed the district court's decision.
In so deciding, the Court of Appeals invoked section 36 of the LPDP, which determines that: "( ...) federal jurisdiction proceeds: a) when a lawsuit is filed over public databases of national entities, and b) when the databases are interconnected with national, international or interjurisdictional networks." The Court concluded that said regulation consists of a concrete application of section 116 of the Argentine Constitution.
To this regard, the Court considered that this case should be heard by the National Justice on Commercial Matters based on the following reasons: (i) the case arises from dispute between the plaintiff and two financial institutions, which are subject to commercial legislation, (ii) none of the scenarios of the PDPL are present in the conflict, (iii) this dispute refer to the financial institutions' private activities, (iv) the Central Bank´s police power was not challenged in this case, and (v) the Federal Jurisdiction has to be restrictively interpreted.
The Court founded its decision on several case laws on the subject determining the Commercial Justice's jurisdiction over habeas data actions filed against financial institutions, based on the understanding that the commercial nature of such companies determines the commercial nature of the dispute.
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