The European Court of Human Rights has recognized that Raphaël Halet, a Frenchman sentenced in Luxembourg for having leaked documents in connection with the "Luxleaks" tax evasion scandal, was a whistleblower and condemned Luxembourg to pay him damages.
The Court, which had dismissed Mr. Halet at first instance, considered in a judgment of the Grand Chamber, published on Tuesday February 14, that the public interest attached to the disclosure of this information outweighed all the harmful effects. resulting from it.
The ECHR concluded that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. It asks Luxembourg to pay Mr. Halet 15,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage and 40,000 euros for costs. Prosecuted in Luxembourg for disclosing tax documents of his employer's clients, Mr. Halet was sentenced in 2014 to a fine of 1,000 euros on appeal.
"A Fine Balance"
This Frenchman, who was employed by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), had communicated to a journalist at the end of 2012 sixteen documents used in a report of the French program "Cash Investigation" broadcast in 2013 on France 2.
He intended to denounce the "tax rescripts", a practice which allowed many multinationals to benefit from very advantageous conditions granted by the Luxembourg tax authorities. Before him, another informant, also an employee of PwC, had copied 45,000 pages of confidential documents in 2010, given to the journalist.
Following a complaint from PwC, the first informant and the journalist were tried and then acquitted by the Luxembourg courts. Raphaël Halet was fined 1,000 euros.
In May 2021, the ECHR, seized by Mr. Halet, had agreed with the judges of the Grand Duchy, finding that they had struck "a fair balance" between the rights of PwC and the freedom of expression of the applicant.
Raphaël Halet, who intended to be fully recognized as a whistleblower, had requested and obtained the referral of the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR, the supreme formation of the Court.