British Broadcasting Corporation Room BC2 A4 Broadcast Centre White City Wood Lane London W12 7TP
Telephone 020 8008 2882 Email email@example.com
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 September 2017
Dear Mr Fischer, Request for Information – RFI20171205
Thank you for your request of 10th August 2017 under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the
Act’) seeking the following information:
“At the time of your semi-recent policy change re: WOIRA in Scotland (see RFI20150609), you
mention that TV Licensing would no longer be honoring [sic] WOIRA requests from Scottish
residents due to legal advice you had been given about the civil tort of tresspass [sic] in Scottish
However, I would like to know what your policies are, and what advice or guidelines you have
recorded, regarding two related acts of law which Scottish occupiers may use to restrict access to
These acts are:
1) The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. I highlight Section 6 (1)(b)(iv) which defines private
homes and gardens as “land over which access rights not exercisable”
2) Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which provides "right to respect for private and family
life" and specifically states that "there shall be no interference by a public authority with this right"
Specifically, with reference to your internal policy documents, guidelines, training manuals, legal
counsel records, emails etc., I would like to know:
i) What information TV Licensing has been given regarding the above two acts in general;
ii) How TV Licensing deals with occupiers who instruct that they wish to be excluded from any
form of contact with TV Licensing under those acts; and
iii) If there are any records of occupiers having successfully removed access rights from TV
Licensing under those acts”
Please note that “TV Licensing” is a trade mark used by companies contracted by the BBC to
administerthe collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing
system. The majority of the administration of TV Licensing is contracted to Capita Business
Services Ltd (‘Capita’). Over-the-counter services are provided by PayPoint plc (‘PayPoint’) in the
UK, and by the Post Office in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. Marketing and printing services
are contracted to Proximity London Ltd. Media services are contracted to Media Planning Limited
trading as Havas Media UK. The BBC is a public authority in respect of its television licensing
functions and retains overall responsibility.
I shall address your requests in turn below.
I can confirm under section 1(1) of the Act that we hold recorded information relevant to this
part of your request. However, I have determined details pertaining to this advice to be exempt
under section 42 of the Act which relates to legal professional privilege. Legal professional
privilege covers amongst other things, confidential communications between lawyers and their
clients for the purpose of seeking, obtaining and consulting on legal advice and between parties
who share a common interest in the confidentiality of the communication. It is important that
openness between them is protected and access to fully informed, frank legal advice, including
potential weaknesses and counter-arguments, is safe-guarded in order to achieve the
administration of justice.
As section 42 is a qualified exemption, I am required under section 2(2) of the Act to assess
whether in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
I am satisfied in terms of section 2(2)(b) of the Act that in all the circumstances of the case, the
public interest in maintaining the exemption at section 42 outweighs the public interest in
disclosing the information. I have provided further explanation of my consideration of the public
interest test below.
We are satisfied that we are compliant with all relevant legislation and can confirm that we have
taken into account the provisions of the legislation you have cited. To reiterate my previous
response to your request RFI20171131, the withdrawal of the common law right for TV
Licensing’s officers to approach properties is not recognised under Scottish law. in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland we recognise that the common law right for TV Licensing’s officers to visit
your property may be withdrawn, but we’ll use other methods of detection to check if a licence is
needed. We do not recognise this withdrawal in Scotland as different laws apply. Request iii)
In view of my response to request ii) above, I can confirm that there have been no instances of
occupiers having successfully removed access rights under the legislation you have specified. Why information has been withheld
I am required under section 2(2) of the Act to assess whether the public interest in maintaining
the section 42 exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
The following factors are in favour of disclosure:
That there is a public interest in the BBC being accountable for the decisions it makes, and
demonstrating that legal advice is sought to ensure that the right outcome is achieved.
That releasing the information held would ensure that the public, including staff, understand
the reasoning upon which the BBC is making decisions that have the potential to affect
large numbers of people.
I consider that the following factors are in favour of withholding the information:
The public interest factors in maintaining the exemption centre on the principle of
protecting communications between lawyers and clients and those who have a common
interest in relation to the legal advice. The seeking of legal advice by all persons so that
they can order their affairs in a lawful manner is strongly in the public interest. That public
interest is perhaps at its strongest where the client seeking, receiving or consulting on legal
advice is a public body or quasi-public body whose decisions have the potential to affect
large numbers of people.
In order for the advice given to be valuable, it is crucial that the seeking and determination
of such advice be carried out with absolute candour. This requires that the persons
seeking and where appropriate sharing the legal advice are secure in the knowledge that
the information that passes between them and their lawyers will be free from scrutiny by
outsiders. As the Information Tribunal recognised in Bellamy v Information Commissioner
“There is a strong element of public interest inbuilt into the privilege itself. At least equally
strong countervailing considerations would need to be adduced to override that inbuilt
If legal professional privilege was not upheld, it could lead to lawyers providing only partial
advice, or to public authorities choosing not to seek legal advice (whether from external or
internal lawyers), thereby reducing the quality of decision making. It is in the public
interest for lawyers to be able to present their advice to the BBC in full, and to ensure that
all legal advice is fully and accurately recorded in writing.
The advice remains live and is still being relied upon by TV Licensing, which strengthens the
public interest in maintaining privilege at this time.
Further guidance from the Department of Constitutional Affairs also states: “given the very
substantial public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of LPP [legal professional privilege]
material, it is likely to be only in exceptional circumstances that it will give way to the public
interest in disclosure
In this instance, the public interest is served by safeguarding openness in all communications
between client and lawyer to ensure access to full and frank legal advice.
In light of the above, I am therefore satisfied, in terms of section 2 of the Act, that in all the
circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemptions cited in each case
outweighs the public interest (outlined above) in disclosing the information identified.
If you are not satisfied that the BBC has complied with the Act in responding to your request you
have the right to an internal review by a BBC senior manager or legal adviser. Please contact us at
the address above, explaining what you would like us to review under the Act and including your
reference number. If you are not satisfied with the internal review, you can appeal to the
Information Commissioner. The contact details are: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe
House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF. Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745
(national rate) or see http://www.ico.gov.uk/.
Rupinder Panesar Freedom of Information Advisor, TV Licensing Management Team