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Czech law

Protection of personal rights in the Czech Republic in general

The Czech legal system belongs to the continental European approach to personal rights. It is influenced by German legal theory, as suggested by the creation of the general personality right and doctrine of natural law. However, it is most similar to the Austrian Civil Code, from which it originally arose.

The Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms[1] provides for privacy rights protection. It provides for general protection of inviolability of the person and of privacy that may be limited only in cases specified by law. Article 10 states, “(1) Everybody is entitled to protection of his or her human dignity, personal integrity, good reputation, and his or her name. (2) Everybody is entitled to protection against unauthorized interference in his or her personal and family life. (3) Everybody is entitled to protection against unauthorized gathering, publication or other misuse of his or her personal data.” Article 13 states, “Nobody may violate secrecy of letters and other papers and records whether privately kept or sent by post or in another manner, except in cases and in a manner specified by law. Similar protection is extended to messages communicated by telephone, telegraph or other such facilities.”

These fundamental rights are subject to specification in acts. The core act for the protection of personhood is the Civil Code,[2] Article 11 of which states, “An individual shall have the right to protection of his or her personhood, in particular of his or her life and health, civic honour and human dignity as well as of its privacy, name and expressions of personal nature.” It is followed by Article 12, which describes specific cases in respect of the records with depiction of the person.[3]

Article 15 of the Civil Code states the possible persons that are allowed to protect their personal rights. In contrary to English law, after the death of the individual, the right to protection of his or her personhood may be asserted by his or her spouse or children or, if there are no spouse or children, by his or her parents. Although the protection is also entitled to the person other than the person affected, the monetary compensation is entitled only the person in concern. This approach is heavily criticised as restraining the only effective remedy for invasion to personal rights.[4] The following chapter deals with remedies in detail.

The Czech civil system is based on the rule of written law. The judgments are not binding – with the exception of the Constitutional Court rulings – nor are the academic commentaries. The parliament cannot issue any binding recommendation on how the law should be applied. The legal terms used in acts are explained in the act itself if necessary. From the above cited Article 11 it can be seen that neither of the used aspects of personality is defined; it is therefore subject to society’s general perception, represented by a judge, to rule what falls under the notion of privacy. This perception could be corrected only by the Constitutional Court judgments, the decisions of which are followed. According to the Constitutional Court core decision, the definition and scope of the right of privacy established that the primary function of the right to respect for private life is to provide conditions for development and fulfilment of individual autonomous personality. In addition to the traditional definition of privacy in its spatial dimensions (protection of privacy of homes in its broad sense) and in connection with the existence of an autonomous public authority and undisturbed creation of social relationship (marriage, family, in society), the right to respect for private life includes the guarantee of self-determination in the sense of decision making of his or herself. The right to privacy also guarantees the right of individuals to decide at their own discretion whether, eventually, to what extent, how and under what circumstances the personal or private information should be made available to public.[5]

At the top of the hierarchy of the binding documents however stands the European legislation and case law of European Courts; therefore the highest authority in the Czech Republic in respect of perception of privacy is the European Court of Human Rights.


[1] Act No. 2/1993 Coll., the Charter of fundamental rights and freedoms, part of the Constitution.

[2] Act No. 40/1964 Coll., the Civil Code in translation http://www.janvalenta.cz/korpus/doku.php?id=civil_code

[3] 1. Documents of personal nature, portraits, pictures and image and sound records concerning an individual or expressions of his personal nature may be taken or used only with his or her consent.

2. The consent shall not be required if the documents of personal nature, portraits, pictures and image and sound records are to be used for official purposes on the basis of an act.

3. Portraits, pictures and image and sound records may be taken or used without the consent of the individual adequately also for purposes of science or art and for the purposes of press, motion picture, radio and television news service. However, such use must not be at variance with lawful interests of the individual.

[4] Švestka J., Spáčil J., Škárová M., Hulmák M. a kolektiv, Velké komentáře, Občanský zákoník I., § 1 – 459 komentář, C.H. Beck v Praze, 1. vydání 2008.

[5] I. ÚS 453/03.

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About ondrejovae

Czech Attorney/Barrister located in Prague with specialization in media law and protection of personal rights

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