Dear South Norfolk District Council,
On 16 June 2014 the South Norfolk District Council Cabinet are to consider a report entitled 'Performance, Risk and Revenue Ouutturn Report 2013/14'
The report identifies that the Council has committed £279,000 to legal cases related to planning and land charges.
Please identify the properties affected and the level of provision allocated to each property / search.
Stuart H Carruthers
Thank you for your request of information below. The Council received a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from you on 9th June which we acknowledged on 11th June (reference number 14-280). It seems as though you have since answered part of that request and have re submitted your request below. We propose to no longer respond to FOI 14-280 and to treat your request below as a new request (reference number 14-291). As such, you may be aware that we have 20 working days in which to respond to Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests and you will therefore hear from me again by 9 July 2014 or earlier if possible.
For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then some or all of the information may not be released. You will be informed if this is the case, including your rights of appeal.
If any of the information you have requested is not contained in a recorded format, South Norfolk Council is not obliged to create information for the purpose of responding to your request
There may be a fee payable for ‘reasonable disbursement’ costs such as postage and photocopying. This will be considered and you will be informed if a fee is payable. In this event the fee must be paid before the information is processed and released. The 20 working day time limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.
If you have any queries or concerns then please let me know. If you do contact us again concerning this request, please quote FOI 14-291.
South Norfolk Council - Investors In People | Gold
Dear Mr Carruthers
I refer to your Freedom of Information request to which I am now in a
position to respond.
Under section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I am
advising you that the Council does hold the information you have
requested. However, after carefully considering the Information
Commissioner's guidance, in my opinion this information is exempt under
Section 31 (1) (c) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in that
disclosure of specific costs allocated to individual legal cases (and the
naming of those legal cases) would be likely to prejudice the
administration of justice.
This exemption is subject to the prejudice test, which requires the
authority to be satisfied that the prejudice or harm that is specified in
the exemption either would or would be likely to occur. I should first
advise that the legal cases that the requested information relate to are
ongoing and yet to be determined. We consider that disclosure of details
relating to these legal cases and particularly the cost attributed to each
could lead to the public gaining knowledge of the level of provision set
aside to both cover the Council’s legal costs and fund possible costs
awarded to third parties. This could prejudice the outcome of the cases
involved by giving those opposing the Council insight into how it intends
to pursue matters and on the likely settlement that the Council may be
willing to agree. By releasing details of legal cases and associated
costs, it is likely that those involved with the cases would be able to
determine what the Council anticipates the outcome of those cases to be
with the information that has been requested. This would severely impact
on the administration of justice and prejudice the Council’s ability to
fairly represent itself in these legal cases.
This exemption is not an absolute exemption and there is a requirement
under Section 1 of the FOI Act for me to apply the "public interest test",
as to whether the balance of public interest favours disclosure. However
after carefully considering the public interest, I do not believe that the
public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public
interest in withholding it. It is essential that legal cases the Council
are involved in result in a fair trial and the release of the requested
information is likely to prejudice this for reasons outlined above.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this email acts as
a Public Interest Refusal Notice. In terms of the exemption, you have a
right of appeal against our decision. In the first instance this appeal
must be internal and we enclose a copy of our guidance regarding how to
request an internal review. We hope that you will not feel it necessary
to invoke an appeal, but if you do we will take every care to re-assess
your request and let you have our findings.
Scrutiny and Information Rights Officer
South Norfolk Council - Investors In People | Gold
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