Working papers submitted to Law Commission review entitled "Protection of Official Data"

Matt Rogerson made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Law Commission

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Law Commission.

Good afternoon,

I would be grateful if you could provide me with copies of any working papers submitted by each of the GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS listed out as having been CONSULTED as part of the Law Commission's recently published review into the 'Protection of official data".

Many thanks in advance

Matt Rogerson

Communications Law Com, Law Commission

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LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

Dear Mr Rogerson

Thank you for your request received in this office on 13/02/17. We acknowledge receipt. We are handling your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We will respond to you as promptly as possible and, in any event, will provide a substantive response within 20 working days from receipt of your request. If you have any query in the meantime relating to your request, please contact me in my role as the Commission’s FoI co-ordinator.

Yours sincerely

Dan Leighton | FoI Co-ordinator | Law Commission

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Laird, Karl, Law Commission

Dear Mr Rogerson,

Thank you for your email of 14 February 2017 requesting “copies of any
working papers submitted by each of the Government Departments,
Organisations and individuals listed out as having been consulted as part
of the Law Commission's recently published review into the 'Protection of
official data”.  We have treated this as a request for information
pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We interpreted the term “working paper” to mean any document sent to us by
a department or individual listed in Appendix B that has suggested ways
the legislation considered in the CP may be defective.

The Law Commission holds such information that was submitted to us by a
number of stakeholders listed in Appendix B.

We are not prepared to disclose that information because the information
is exempt information by virtue of sections 2 and 36 of the Act. Section
36 applies where disclosure would prejudice, or would be likely to
prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs. The exemption applies
because the Law Commission’s qualified person is of the opinion that
release of the relevant information would prejudice the effective conduct
of public affairs, within the meaning of section 36(2)(c) of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000.

The Law Commission’s qualified person was of the opinion that this met the
higher test of “would occur” rather than “would be likely to occur” in
relation to prejudice. It was the strong opinion of the Commission’s
qualified person that, because the Commission relies heavily on the
ability to engage openly and frankly with multiple stakeholders as we form
our views during the course of the project; to release information
relating to this process would inhibit our ability in the future to
receive such candour. That would, in turn, prejudice the effective conduct
of public affairs, given our statutory duties.

The Commission believes that, in all the circumstances of the case, the
public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the information. The reasons for this belief are that the
ability of stakeholders to express their views frankly, together with the
fact that this is still a live project, outweighs the short-term benefit
in demonstrating the evidence base for the contents of the Consultation
Paper, following adverse media comment.

The test of “would” and “would likely” is relevant in this regard. Because
the Commission’s qualified person was of the view that disclosure would
prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs, the bar is set higher
in relation to public interest. In short, the effect on the Law
Commission’s ability to fulfil our statutory functions would be so
adversely affected by disclosure that it must outweigh any short-term
benefit.

Our qualified person made this decision considering the Law Commission’s
work at its widest; at any one time we have up to 16 projects running, all
of which rely on testing ideas with multiple stakeholders. Releasing
information about that process on this occasion would, in his view,
adversely impact on all other projects, calling into question the entire
process sitting behind the Law Commission’s consultative approach to
producing recommendations.

In addition, some of the Working Papers relate to bodies listed in section
23(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Given that this is the case,
this information is exempt information by virtue of section 23(1) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. This is an absolute exemption and there
is therefore no need to consider whether the public interest in
maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information

Finally, we also hold a Working Paper that has been supplied to us by a
security body listed in section 23(3) of the Freedom of Information Act
2000. Given that it has been supplied to us by such a security body, this
information is exempt information by virtue of section 23(1) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. This is an absolute exemption and there
is therefore no need to consider whether the public interest in
maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information.

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request.  Please contact Dan Leighton, our FoI co-ordinator, who will
explain and initiate the internal procedure for you.  We ask that your
request for a review is made within two months of the date of this letter.

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

t.  0303-123-1113

w. www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Karl Laird

Lawyer, Criminal Law Team

 

 

Karl Laird| Law Commission
Team Lawyer (Criminal Law Team)
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.54, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3162 | Fax: 020 3334 0201 | Web: [1]www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [2][email address]

 

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copies and inform the sender by return e-mail.

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could be intercepted and read by someone else. Please bear that in
mind when deciding whether to send material in response to this message
by e-mail.

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