Cardiff and Bristol properties owned by offshore companies

Nikolaus Kommenda made this Freedom of Information request to Land Registry

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

The request was refused by Land Registry.

Nikolaus Kommenda

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to ask you to supply a list of addresses of properties in Cardiff and Bristol that are being owned or leased by companies that are registered offshore. More specifically, I am interested in the address of a property if the freeholder or leaseholder is based in any of the following countries:

Andorra, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Monaco, Mauritius, Liberia, Seychelles, Brunei, Hong Kong, Maldives, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat, Panama, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos and US Virgin Islands.

For your convenience, I have attached lists of the alpha-2 and alpha-3 country codes of these countries at the end of this message.

Please supply the list of properties including address, type of ownership (freehold/leasehold) and country of proprietor/leaseholder in table form, i.e. in a .csv or .xls format.

If for some reason you are not able to publish the full addresses of said properties, please list the post code, type of ownership and country of proprietor/leaseholder for each property instead.

If there are any issues relating to this request, please feel free to contact me for clarification as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Nikolaus Kommenda

List of country names:

Andorra
Liechtenstein
Guernsey
Monaco
Mauritius
Liberia
Seychelles
Brunei
Hong Kong
Maldives
Cook Islands
Nauru
Niue
Marshall Islands
Vanuatu
Anguilla
Antigua and Barbuda
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Bermuda
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Grenada
Montserrat
Panama
St Vincent and the Grenadines
St Kitts and Nevis
Turks and Caicos
US Virgin Islands

alpha2 country codes:

AD
LI
GG
MC
MU
LR
SC
BN
HK
MV
CK
NR
NU
MH
VU
AI
AG
BS
BB
BZ
BM
VG
KY
GD
MS
PA
VC
KN
TC
VI

alpha3 country codes:

AND
LIE
GGY
MCO
MUS
LBR
SYC
BRN
HKG
MDV
COK
NRU
NIU
MHL
VUT
AIA
ATG
BHS
BRB
BLZ
BMU
VGB
CYM
GRD
MSR
PAN
VCT
KNA
TCA
VIR

Sondh, Gurmale, Land Registry

Dear Mr Kommenda,

 

Thank you for your email dated 21 April 2016 requesting to supply a list
of addresses of properties in Cardiff and Bristol that are being owned or
leased by companies that are registered offshore. More specifically, I am
interested in the address of a property if the freeholder or leaseholder
is based in any of the following countries:

 

Andorra, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Monaco, Mauritius, Liberia, Seychelles,
Brunei, Hong Kong, Maldives, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands,
Vanuatu, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize,
Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat,
Panama, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and
Caicos and US Virgin Islands.

 

I can confirm that the Land Registry holds this information

 

Under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we are not
required to provide information in response to a request if it is already
reasonably accessible to you. The information you requested is available
from the Department’s website – Land Registry: Overseas Companies data
([1]https://www.gov.uk/guidance/land-registr... ).

 

The overseas dataset contains details of every registered title in England
and Wales to an overseas company up to 31 October 2015. The dataset will
include title number of the property, tenure (freehold/leasehold),
property address, administrative area (Local Authority area), company name
and other information This dataset will not be refreshed or updated.
Please note that the dataset doesn’t include every sale of the property,
just the current owner. However, if you wish to have information about the
changes that took place in the ownership of land, you have the option to
purchase this type of data from our Business Development and Fulfilment
Team under the chargeable dataset. To purchase this type of data or find
out more, please  contact them at -
[2][email address

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. 

If you are dissatisfied with this response to your request, you may seek
an internal review within two months of the date of our reply. Internal
reviews will be dealt within 20 working days. If at the end of this time
we are unable to respond, we will write to you explaining the reasons and
giving you a new date. If you seek an internal review please write to:

Louise Booth

Head of Corporate Legal Services (Core Services)

Head office

Trafalgar House

1 Bedford Park

Croydon

CR0 2AQ

Email: [3][email address]

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) within
two months of the reply for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a
decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by
Land Registry. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Senior Corporate Information Officer
Corporate Legal and Assurance Services
Land Registry Head Office, 4th Floor, Trafalgar House, 1 Bedford Park,
Croydon, CR0 2AQ
[4]GOV.UK | [5]@LandRegGov | [6]LinkedIn | [7]Facebook

 

=============================================================================================================================

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

 

I am writing to ask you to supply a list of addresses of properties in
Cardiff and Bristol that are being owned or leased by companies that are
registered offshore. More specifically, I am interested in the address of
a property if the freeholder or leaseholder is based in any of the
following countries:

 

Andorra, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Monaco, Mauritius, Liberia, Seychelles,
Brunei, Hong Kong, Maldives, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands,
Vanuatu, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize,
Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat,
Panama, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and
Caicos and US Virgin Islands.

 

For your convenience, I have attached lists of the alpha-2 and alpha-3
country codes of these countries at the end of this message.

 

Please supply the list of properties including address, type of ownership
(freehold/leasehold) and country of proprietor/leaseholder in table form,
i.e. in a .csv or .xls format.

 

If for some reason you are not able to publish the full addresses of said
properties, please list the post code, type of ownership and country of
proprietor/leaseholder for each property instead.

 

If there are any issues relating to this request, please feel free to
contact me for clarification as soon as possible.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Nikolaus Kommenda

 

List of country names:

 

Andorra

Liechtenstein

Guernsey

Monaco

Mauritius

Liberia

Seychelles

Brunei

Hong Kong

Maldives

Cook Islands

Nauru

Niue

Marshall Islands

Vanuatu

Anguilla

Antigua and Barbuda

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Bermuda

British Virgin Islands

Cayman Islands

Grenada

Montserrat

Panama

St Vincent and the Grenadines

St Kitts and Nevis

Turks and Caicos

US Virgin Islands

 

alpha2 country codes:

 

AD

LI

GG

MC

MU

LR

SC

BN

HK

MV

CK

NR

NU

MH

VU

AI

AG

BS

BB

BZ

BM

VG

KY

GD

MS

PA

VC

KN

TC

VI

 

alpha3 country codes:

 

AND

LIE

GGY

MCO

MUS

LBR

SYC

BRN

HKG

MDV

COK

NRU

NIU

MHL

VUT

AIA

ATG

BHS

BRB

BLZ

BMU

VGB

CYM

GRD

MSR

PAN

VCT

KNA

TCA

VIR

 

show quoted sections

Nikolaus Kommenda

Dear Information Officer,

Thank you for your swift reply. Unfortunately, I don't feel this sufficiently answers my request.

Your response cites section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act which exempts you from your obligation to publish the requested data if the information is already reasonably accessible to the applicant. I believe this is not the case for several reasons.

First of all, as I am asking for an up-to-date list of properties, the downloadable dataset you refer to can at best constitute a partial response to my request. However, in the case of Colin P England v London Borough of Bexley, the majority of the Information Tribunal consulted said they “do not interpret [section 21] as stating that a public authority has no obligation to provide information where a reasonable amount of that information is available elsewhere.”

Secondly, to quote from a document issued by the Information Commissioner's Office “to help public authorities to fully understand their obligations” ( https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio... ) : “In order for section 21 to apply the applicant should be as free to use the information provided under any alternative access regime as they would be had it been disclosed under FOIA.” I am not convinced this is the case given that the dataset in question is subject to an extensive set of terms and conditions.

You also state that more recent data is available as a paid product. While I am aware that information may be regarded as reasonably accessible even though it is accessible only on payment, both the Freedom of Information Act and the ICO's guide for authorities state multiple requirements that do not seem to be fulfilled in the case of my request.

Section 21 itself states that such data cannot be regarded as reasonably accessible “unless […] any payment required is specified in, or determined in accordance with, the [authority's publication] scheme.” Not only does your publication scheme ( https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... ) not specify the cost of the “chargeable dataset” you refer to, but in contrast claims under the headline “Open data and datasets” that the Land Registry “will publish any dataset (and updates) we hold, in relation to which a request has been made”, a pledge that strikes me as somewhat contradicting your response to my FOI request.

Finally, the ICO's guide on section 21 of the FOIA suggests another type of case in which the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to access the data by means of paying for a different publication, namely, “if the request is only for a small amount of the information contained in it.” I would strongly argue that this applies to my situation as I asked for a locally restricted list of properties and a set of data fields that represents only a fraction of the information I presume is obtainable from your “chargeable dataset.”

I hereby request an internal review of this refusal to disclose the information requested. Please feel free to contact me as soon as possible should there be further need for clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Nikolaus Kommenda

Sondh, Gurmale, Land Registry

Dear Mr Kommenda,

Thank you for your email of 22 April 2016 requesting an Internal Review of Land Registry’s decision to refuse to disclose the information requested.
Your request will be referred to one of our lawyers in the team and will be answered within twenty working days. If it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we will keep you informed.

If you have any queries about this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Senior Corporate Information Officer
Corporate Legal and Assurance Services
Land Registry Head Office, 4th Floor, Trafalgar House, 1 Bedford Park, Croydon, CR0 2AQ
GOV.UK | @LandRegGov | LinkedIn | Facebook

================================================================================================================================

show quoted sections

Sondh, Gurmale, Land Registry

Dear Mr Kommenda,

Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000 request made on 21 April 2016

I am one of the lawyers in the Corporate Legal & Assurance Services Team and I have been asked to respond to your request for an internal review to be carried out following the response by my colleague Gurmale Sondh to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 dated 21 April 2016.

Your email of 21 April 2016 requested:

”I am writing to ask you to supply a list of addresses of properties in Cardiff and Bristol that are being owned or leased by companies that are registered offshore. More specifically, I am interested in the address of a property if the freeholder or leaseholder is based in any of the following countries:

Andorra, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Monaco, Mauritius, Liberia, Seychelles, Brunei, Hong Kong, Maldives, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat, Panama, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos and US Virgin Islands.

For your convenience, I have attached lists of the alpha-2 and alpha-3 country codes of these countries at the end of this message.

Please supply the list of properties including address, type of ownership (freehold/leasehold) and country of proprietor/leaseholder in table form, i.e. in a .csv or .xls format.

If for some reason you are not able to publish the full addresses of said properties, please list the post code, type of ownership and country of proprietor/leaseholder for each property instead.”

On 21 April 2016 my colleague Gurmale Sondh responded to your request confirming that under s.21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we are not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you.
He confirmed that the information you requested is available from the Department’s website – Land Registry: Overseas Companies data (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/land-registr...).

His response confirmed that the overseas data set contains details of every registered title in England and Wales to an overseas company up to 31 October 2015. The dataset will include title number of the property, tenure (freehold/leasehold), property address, administrative area (Local Authority area), company name and other information. He also confirmed that this dataset will not be refreshed or updated and that the dataset does not include every sale of the property, just the current owner.
My colleague went on to explain that if you wish to have information about the changes that took place in the ownership of land, you have the option to purchase this type of data from our Business Development and Fulfilment Team under the chargeable dataset. Guidance was provided that if you wished to purchase this type of data or find out more about it the contact details were provided being:
[email address].

On the 22 April 2016 you responded indicating that you did not feel the response given sufficiently answers your request and you requested an internal review.
Section 21 states:
“(1) Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant otherwise than under section 1 is exempt information.

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)—

(a) information may be reasonably accessible to the applicant even though it is accessible only on payment, and
(b) Information is to be taken to be reasonably accessible to the applicant if it is information which the public authority or any other person is obliged by or under any enactment to communicate (otherwise than by making the information available for inspection) to members of the public on request, whether free of charge or on payment.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), information which is held by a public authority and does not fall within subsection (2) (b) is not to be regarded as reasonably accessible to the applicant merely because the information is available from the public authority itself on request, unless the information is made available in accordance with the authority’s publication scheme and any payment required is specified in, or determined in accordance with, the scheme.”
The purpose of the above exemption is to ensure that there is no right of access to information via FOIA if it is available to the applicant by another route. Land Registry has already confirmed to you that this information is available by another route and has provided the links to enable you to obtain the information requested.
Furthermore, our Publication Scheme also provides information in respect of the data sets available from Land Registry and again links are provided to take you to the relevant information about the datasets that are available free of charge and also chargeable datasets. You were directed to contact our data publication department who would be able to provide you with details of costs relevant to providing the data that you require.
I note your reference to the case of The London Borough of Bexley and Colin P England v Information Commissioner (EA/2006/0060 & 0066) a case where the Information Tribunal considered whether the fact that 70% of the requested information was available to the applicant meant that it was reasonably accessible or whether all the information had to be reasonably accessible. Land Registry has already confirmed that all the information that you have requested is available and has advised you upon the means of accessing that information.
Having carried out my review, I am satisfied that s.21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is appropriate.

I do hope I have been able to provide some clarity around the queries that you have raised, however, if you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner within two months of this reply for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

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

Yours sincerely,
L Malpas
Lesley Malpas
Lawyer
Corporate Legal & Assurance Services
Tel 0300 006 2443
Fax 0300 006 0028
Email: GOV.UK | @LandRegGov | Linkedin | Facebook

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