Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Information tribunal

The information tribunal site now contains full text of the "Mr E A Barber v The Information Commissioner" case, I previously mentioned this a few weeks ago. The case concerns the Inland Revenue.

"The Tribunal is minded to substitute a different Decision Notice. However in view of Mr Barber s subsequent request under FOIA, which has resulted in Mr Barber receiving information from the Inland Revenue, the Tribunal has decided to adjourn the hearing so as to allow the Information Commissioner, with the help of Mr Barber, to review all the information already provided to Mr Barber by the Inland Revenue and consider, in the light of the information already provided to Mr Barber,what further information, if any, could still be provided by the Inland Revenue, in order for them to comply with the original FOI request, the subject of this appeal. The Respondent should then report back his findings to the Tribunal, including details of the information already provided to Mr Barber, by 6 January 2006. In the light of the report the Tribunal will then substitute an appropriate Decision Notice."

Worth reading through in full....

This section is interesting:
"5. Under s.1(1) FOIA there is no definition of a valid or effective request as such. The only provision is that any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled to be informed by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request. There is no restriction on what that description might be. However, where the public authority cannot easily identify the information then s.1(3) provides a mechanism whereby the authority can seek to clarify the request and if this further information is not supplied then the authority is not obliged to comply with the request. There is no evidence that the Inland Revenue exercised this right under s.1(3).".......We find that Mr Barber had a genuine and unfulfilled requirement to know what actions had taken place in relation to the prioritising of refunds of overpaid tax. This we consider was an integral part of the initial request by Mr Barber which the Inland Revenue should have been able to determine from Mr Barber's three letters in February 2005. As a result we find the Commissioner was wrong in law to find that the Inland Revenue have no information to provide in response to his request."

This is the second time the IC decision has in effect been overturned (also see the first ruling for Bridgnorth Council)

Also worth noting the next hearing is listed on the tribunal site: "John Connor Press Associates Ltd v The ICO", 16/12/05 10.00am at Procession House, 110 New Bridge Street , London , EC4V 6JL. Relates to this decision notice: Case Ref: FS50063478, Date: 20/6/05, Public Authority: National Maritime Museum ('NMM')

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