This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'TV Licensing policy for dealing with instructions made under the Human Rights Act and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act'.

 
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Information Rights 
bbc.co.uk/foi 
bbc.co.uk/privacy 
 
Patrick Fischer  
Via email: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx   
 
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 
law. 
 
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 
their properties.  
 
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. 
 
Request i) 
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. 
 
Request ii)  
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  
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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:  
 
1. 
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.  
 
2. 
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:  
1. 
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.  
 
2. 
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 
EA/2005/0023:  
 
“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 
public interest.”  
 
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.   
 
3. 
The advice remains live and is still being relied upon by TV Licensing, which strengthens the 
public interest in maintaining privilege at this time. 
 
4. 
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] 

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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.  
 
Appeal Rights 
 
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/. 
 
Kind regards 
 
Rupinder Panesar 
Freedom of Information Advisor, TV Licensing Management Team 
 
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