BR request

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Enfield Council,

(a) List all non-domestic properties and their addresses.
(b) The names of the Rate payers referred to above for each property
(c) The reliefs applied to the bill
(d) The exact date the relief was applied to the bill
(e) The exact date the occupier became liable for the bill
(f) The upto date rateable value
(g) Please make sure the information is upto date as possible

Yours faithfully,


complaintsandinformation, Enfield Council

1 Atodiad

Classification: OFFICIAL

Dear Mr Phillips


Thank you for making a request for information to the London Borough of


We are aiming to respond to your request within 20 working days and will
let you know if we hold the information you requested and whether or not
we can release it under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


We are now making an initial assessment of your request and we will
contact you if any clarification is needed.


If you have any queries regarding your request, please contact us at
[1][Enfield Council request email] quoting your reference CRM FOI


Kind regards


Theresa Willard

Complaints and Information Coordinator

Complaints and Information Team

Chief Executive Department

Enfield Council

Silver Street




Email: [2][email address]


‘Enfield Council is committed to serving the whole borough fairly,
delivering excellent services and building strong communities.’




Classification: OFFICIAL


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1. mailto:[Enfield Council request email]
2. mailto:[email address]

Simon Ranyard, Enfield Council

Dear Mr Phillips

In response to your freedom of information request below.

Please treat this email as a refusal notice under Section 21, 40, 41 and
Section 31. As part of the Councils Publication scheme we already publish
a list of companies in the borough and this includes some of the
information you have requested so the data for (a), (b) (e) and (f) is
provided. We will not release more than this.

Any other information is readily available on the valuation office Agency
website and as such the request is refused under Section 21 of the Act.

You can find our list of Companies here , it is updated on a quarterly


Any other information is considered personal to that company we will not
release information relating to reliefs in line with previous requests.

Some of the information you seek in (b) would identify individuals such
information would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 Section 40 (2). Specifically, it would breach the
second data protection principle [GDPR Article 5 1(b)] as this processing
would not be compatible with the purposes for which the data was collected
(council tax collection). The data subject would also have an expectation
that this information would not be publicly disclosed, and therefore any
disclosure would be unfair and in breach of the first data protection
principle [GDPR Article 5 1(a)].

The identity of these individuals is therefore exempt from disclosure
under the Freedom of Information Act Section 40 (2). This is an absolute
exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest.

Our records are solely for the purposes of collecting a tax and any
information collected and given to us is given in confidence. You are also
asking for specific information about accounts, such information is
personal to the ratepayers in question and I am refusing under Section 41
(Information provided in Confidence) because the release of information
would constitute a breach of confidence. The ratepayers have agents who
deal with their accounts. Tax payer confidentiality is of the upmost

Information relating to billing and collection of Business Rate is
provided to us by organisations expressly for that purpose and is
commercially sensitive. Companies provide information in confidence to
Enfield and it follows that such information should be protected. The view
is that the Council could be subject to an actionable breach of confidence
if it were to disclose information relating to companies to third parties
without their authorisation.

As a rating agent you work for many different Companies and have authority
to act on their behalf. In this situation the Council would accept you
have good reason to request the information in this FOI where your clients
are the ratepayer.

We would only provide details to rating agents if we know they act for a
client. I am sure you will understand if another Company obtained details
relating to your clients that may result in a loss of commission to your
Company, which in itself may be actionable if it became apparent it was
due to information Enfield had released. If we do not already know a
rating agent is acting on behalf of a company we would need "an authority
to act" from each of their clients before giving them any information
about specific Business Rate accounts. It is usual for an agent to quote
the account number, who they are acting for and the context of why they
are contacting us.

As I said we have published certain information but when connected with
other information we consider other specific details about a company would
be likely to attract a higher degree of sensitivity. For example, in the
area of procurement, the identify of an unsuccessful bidder may be
withheld in certain circumstances. Therefore we consider that to the
extent that the supplementary data account concerning ratepayer is exempt
under Section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Section 41 of the FOIA states:

1) Information is exempt information if-
a) it was obtained by the public authority from any other person
(including another public authority), and
b) the disclosure of the information to the public (otherwise than under
this Act) by the public authority holding it would constitute a breach of
confidence actionable by that or any other person.

2) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that,
the confirmation or denial that would have to be given to comply with
section 1(1)(a) would (apart from this Act) constitute an actionable
breach of confidence.

Section 41(1) (a) requires that the information in question was obtained
from any other person. Guidance issued by the Information Commissioner
(regarding Information provided in confidence) states: A person may be an
individual, a company, a local authority or any other “legal entity”.
Individuals and companies supplied information to the Council regarding
the account holder’s details which then activated the account number. This
part of the exemption is therefore satisfied.

Section 41(1) (b) requires the disclosure by the Council to constitute an
actionable breach of confidence by that person. The information must
therefore have the necessary quality of confidence. In our opinion the
information does have the necessary quality of confidence. It is
recognised in English law that an important duty of confidentiality is
owed to taxpayers. This is what is known as “taxpayer confidentiality”.
This is a long established principle of common law, protecting taxpayers’
affairs against disclosure to the public, and has been recognised to be of
the utmost importance when dealing with the administration of tax and
rates. We were satisfied that the requested information is not trivial,
nor is it available by any other means. It is our assessment that
companies or individuals would be able to establish that disclosure would
expose the Council to the risk of a breach of confidence claim which, on a
balance of probabilities, would succeed. This includes considering whether
the Council would have a defence to the claim. This latter point is
expanded upon below.

The duty of confidence is not absolute, and the courts recognise three
circumstances under which confidential information may be disclosed:

• Where the person to whom the duty of confidentiality is owed consents to
the disclosure.
• Where the disclosure is required by law.
• Where there is an overriding public interest in disclosure.

In the context of this request, no consent has been obtained from the
individual taxpayers (and it would be impractical to do so); nor is the
disclosure required by law. Of more relevance is whether there is an
overriding public interest. Guidance issued by the Information
Commissioner states that “the courts have taken the view that the grounds
for breaching confidentiality must be valid and very strong. A duty of
confidence should not be overridden lightly.” Further guidance from the
Information Commissioner states that the “the public interest test within
the duty of confidence assumes that information should be withheld unless
the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in
maintaining the duty of confidence.”

It is appreciated that there may be a public interest in scrutinising how
the Council administers its business rates; however this interest is not,
in our view, sufficient to override the duty of confidence, and apart from
your own private interest in disclosure we have no evidence of a wider
public interest in this matter. It is also the case that we have a
fiduciary duty to our residents and businesses and we have to take the
interests of our Council Tax payers as central,

Ratepayers provide information to the Council and have a legitimate
expectation that the information will be treated in confidence.
Furthermore, there is a public interest in maintaining trust and
preserving a free flow of information to the Council where this is
necessary for the Council to perform its statutory functions relating to
the administration of business rates and council tax. Such functions are
undertaken for the benefit of the public. We therefore consider that it
would be excessive to override the duty of taxpayer confidentiality and
disclose information relating to the affairs of business ratepayers. Your
request for disclosure is therefore refused under section 41 of the FOIA.

Certain information on reliefs such as empty rates is exempt under Section
31 as you are also asking for information as the empty/occupied status of
a property. We will not release information concerning vacant property or

Obviously identifying occupied properties identifies empty ones.

Section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act in this Authority’s view
applies to this request. This section provides that information is exempt
from disclosure if such disclosure would prejudice the “prevention or
detection of crime”. Putting the addresses of empty properties
(residential or otherwise) within the Borough into the public domain would
in the Authority’s view compromise the security of the buildings concerned
and would prejudice the objectives of preventing criminal behaviour. We
consider there is a significant risk that releasing details of empty
properties might lead to burglary, arson or squatting. Within the borough
there have been occasions recently when fires have been set in empty
properties. In relation to domestic and commercial empty properties, there
is also known use of such empty properties to commit benefit fraud,
identity fraud and money laundering.

We have consulted with other Boroughs who have also received similar
requests, we have been advised that concerns have also been expressed by
the Metropolitan Police. These concerns indicate that release of the
information sought would in the police’s view increase the potential for
the properties to be targeted by squatters, by criminals or terrorists
intent on hiding or depositing proceeds of crime or terrorist materials.
There is also the potential for premises to be identified as short-term
hiding places by criminals or terrorists. We have consulted our local
police and they have confirmed the number of incidents of crimes carried
out on empty properties, and their view is that disclosing this
information would prejudice the prevention of crime.

These incidents would support the concerns the Authority has as to the
prejudice to the prevention of crime in the borough if the information
were disclosed. The Act does not allow the Council to enquire as to
motives, nor do we have any control over distribution of the information
once it is released into the public domain. Making it available to you
effectively makes it available to all.

Section 31 is a qualified exemption to which the public interest test must
be applied. There do not appear to be any obvious public interest
considerations that would weigh in favour of disclosure beyond that
wherever possible it is in the public interest for them to have access to
information. There is however in our view clear public interest
considerations that weigh in favour of not disclosing the information
since to do so would prejudice the objective of prevention of crime which
is of course in everyone’s interests. Having considered whether the public
interest weighs in favour of disclosure or non-disclosure in this instance
the Authority has decided that it is not in the public interest to release
such information. I would add to this that our approach has been borne out
by the recent Judgement of Judge Jacobs in relation to the appeal to the
upper Tribunal on the Camden case concerning Squatters.

However it is also true that most of the information you seek is already
in the public domain. The Council has a portfolio of empty property some
is available for let and our agents Spencer Craig handle the Councils
commercial lets. You can contact these agents for a list of empty
property. These properties will have been professionally secured and are
monitored. Other Agents will also have a list of empty property.

Exemptions not provided for same reason as Empty and other information
under Section 41 (but also as identifies occupancy status).

Furthermore and perhaps even more importantly this is also to done to
protect our ratepayers from unscrupulous rating agents, we have a duty to
our business community that exceeds merely the collection of taxes, this
has been recognised by Central Government recently and making information
available to you effectively makes it available to all. We have supported
Businesses by automatically applying the retail discount. Work continues
to ensure that no business has been missed, as it is the Governments view
that we should ensure that there is no unnecessary diversion of business
rate relief that is intended for businesses ending up in the pockets of
others. I am sure you will agree that this is worthwhile and as I stated
making it available to you effectively makes it available to all.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you should email: [2][email address]

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by the Authority. The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Or Email: [3][email address]

Kind regards

Simon Ranyard
Business Rates Manager
Revenues and Benefits
Enfield Council
Silver Street

Tel: + 44 (0)20 8379 4766
[4][email address]

"Enfield Council is committed to serving the whole borough fairly,
delivering excellent services and building strong communities."

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