Mr. Manni was a director of Italiana Costruzioni Srl, an Italian building company that was awarded a contract for the construction of a tourist complex. He found out that he was losing clients who performed background checks of the company. It appeared from the companies register that Mr Manni had been the sole director and liquidator of another company, Immobiliare e Finanziaria Salentina Srl, which had been declared insolvent in 1992 and therefore clients associated Italiana Costruzioni Srl with the former activity of Mr. Manni. The information of him being the administrator in the past was still publicly available. Mr. Manni requested his regional Chamber of Commerce to erase his personal data from the Public Registry of Companies.
The Court took into account that EU law requires “disclosure only for a limited number of personal data items”. Stating “it appears justified that natural persons who choose to participate in trade through such a company are required to disclose the data relating to their identity and functions within that company, especially since they are aware of that requirement when they decide to engage in such activity”.
Finally, CJEU concluded: “it seems impossible, at present, to identify a single time limit, as from the dissolution of a company, at the end of which the inclusion of such data in the register and their disclosure would no longer be necessary”.
However, the Court also adds: “/—/ there may be specific situations in which the overriding and legitimate reasons relating to the specific case of the person concerned justify exceptionally that access to personal data entered in the register is limited /—/”.
Hence, according to the interpretation by the court, natural persons, having decided to engage in economic activities through the companies the liability of which is limited by shares, must publish their own identity and position in that company, however, in any case, the member states have to determine whether the natural persons may apply to the authority responsible for keeping, respectively, the central register, commercial register or companies register to determine, on the basis of a case-by-case assessment, if it is exceptionally justified, on compelling legitimate grounds relating to their particular situation, to limit, on the expiry of a sufficiently long period after the dissolution of the company concerned, access to personal data relating to them, entered in that register, to third parties who can demonstrate a specific interest in consulting that data.