How many letters before action for judicial review concerning issues relating to the administration, entitlement to or payment of benefits were received

Martin Williams made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please provide details of how many letters before action under the pre action protocol for judicial review relating to issues about the administration, payment or entitlement to benefits were received by DWP solicitors for each of the years from 2010 onwards (tax years or calendar years - whichever is easier).

Yours faithfully,

Martin Williams

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

You can expect a reply by 13 February 2018 unless I need to come back to you to clarify your request or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI Team

Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team,
Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

-------------------------------------------------------------------

show quoted sections

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
 
 
Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'How many letters before action for judicial review concerning issues relating to the administration, entitlement to or payment of benefits were received'.

Your reply states that the information requested is exempt from disclosure due to s.32 of the Act:

"The information you have requested is exempt under section 32 of the FOI act, which
states that:

“Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it is held only by virtue of
being contained in—
(a) any document filed with, or otherwise placed in the custody of, a court for the
purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter,
(b) any document served upon, or by, a public authority for the purposes of
proceedings in a particular cause or matter”.

The duty to confirm or deny that the information exists does not arise in relation to
information which is exempt information by virtue of this section

This is an absolute exemption, so DWP is not required to carry out the Public Interest
Test. "

GROUNDS FOR REVIEW:

1. It is disputed that the information requested is information "contained in" documents served upon the DWP for the purposes of proceedings. Rather the request concerns the number of pre action protocol letters for judicial review received by the DWP in particular periods. Although each such letter would have had information contained in it which is covered by s.32, the request does not aim to obtain that information but rather the number of pre action letters received- that is a different matter. If anything the relationship of this request to s.32 is that we are asking for the number of correspondences containing s.32 protected information of a specific sort (threat of judicial review under the pre-action protocol) - that is not the same as asking for the information contained in that correspondence.

2. Furthermore, taking a purposive approach to s.32, it is clear that the intention of the exemption is to prevent an authority from being forced to disclose information contained in Court proceedings (s.32(1)(a) sub head) or pre-litigation proceedings (the s.32(1)(b) sub head). That purpose would not be frustrated by releasing the data we have asked for (numbers of pre-litigation letters received). We note that the Information Commissioner's Office takes a similar view of the purpose of the section:

"We believe that section 32 was drafted to allow the courts to maintain judicial control over access to information about court proceedings. This includes giving courts control to decide what information can
be disclosed without prejudicing those proceedings." (https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...)

The construction of s.32 relied upon by the DWP in this case is therefore incorrect as it would result in the use of the exemption for purposes for which it is not intended.

3. Finally, even if you are correct that the information is covered by s.32 then this is not an appropriate case to issue the "neither confirm nor deny" notice. You are correct to say that there is an exemption to the duty to confirm or deny if the information is held in a s.32 case. However, the guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office is that this should not be relied upon in this sort of case- see para 67 of the same commentary referred to above which states:

"Nonetheless, authorities shouldn’t issue NCND responses as a matter of routine. Therefore unless there is an obvious need to rely on the NCND exclusion, the authority should consider issuing a ‘confirm or deny’ response as usual."

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

Yours faithfully,

Martin Williams

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
 
 
Mr Williams
 
Please see copy of your FoI request attached
 
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Martin Williams left an annotation ()

Please note that we have now referred this matter to the ICO for them to adjudicate on it.

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Williams,

Following the Information Commissioner's intervention (ref:FS50729066) in this case please find attached a revised response to your Freedom of Information request.

The Information Commissioner has been copied into this response.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Operations Freedom of Information Team

show quoted sections

Martin Williams

Dear Operations FOI Requests,

Many thanks for your reply. We are pleased that you have ceased to rely on s.32 FOIA in this matter.

The final paragraph of your response states:

"DWPLA does have access to Management Information Quantitative Data Returns which detail the total number of claims brought against DWP. DWPLA holds this data for 2017 and may also hold this data for earlier years, although it is not thought the data goes back so far as 2010. However, this information simply lists the total number of new claims as well as letters before action received by DWP each year and it does not distinguish between new claims and letters before action. Nor does the information record what the claims or letters are in relation to. As a result, this information may not be sufficient so as to be of use to you."

We would be grateful if you could send us the information referred to in that paragraph for 2017 and for as many years as you have it available back to 2010.

Many thanks for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Williams
CPAG

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally expect a response within 20 working days.
  
For further information on making Freedom of Information requests please click on the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...

show quoted sections

Martin Williams

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'How many letters before action for judicial review concerning issues relating to the administration, entitlement to or payment of benefits were received'.

You may have missed my follow up request on 27/06/2018- I asked for the information you said you did have. Thanks.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

Yours faithfully,

Martin Williams

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
Mr Williams
 
Please see copy of your FoI request attached
 
DWP Operations FOI Team
 
 
 

show quoted sections