Human Rights/Private Life

In the case of Niemietz v. Germany 1992 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg held that the right to a ‘private life’ under Article 8 of the 1998 Act extends to a person’s workplace.

In Niemietz the Court did not consider it possible, or necessary for that matter, to attempt an exhaustive definition of the notion of ‘private life’; instead it said:‘… would be too restrictive to limit the notion to an ‘inner circle’ in which the individual may live his own personal life as he chooses and to exclude therefrom entirely the outside world not encompassed within that circle.

Respect for private life must also comprise to a certain degree the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings.

There appears, furthermore, to be no reason of principle why this understanding of the notion of ‘private life’ should be taken to exclude activities of a professional or business nature since it is, after all, in the course of their working lives that the majority of people have a significant, if not the greatest, opportunity of developing relationships with the outside world.

This view is supported by the fact that, as was rightly pointed out by the Commission, it is not always possible to distinguish clearly which of an individual’s activities form part of his professional or business life and which do not’.