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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FAC0070855
  • Date: 11 April 2006
  • Public Authority: Bexley Council
  • Summary: On 2 February 2005 the complainant, an architect, requested details of documentation which raised doubts about the lawful use of land owned by his client. The Council replied that any advice from the Legal Services Department to the Council's Planning Department was confidential legal advice and so exempt from disclosure. The complainant then asked for the Council to review their decision, and received a reply on 24 March stating that it considered it to be in the public interest to maintain the exemption. The Council did not cite any specific exemption but it is clear that it was relying on section 42 (legal processional privilege). The Commissioner has found that the legal advice in question was received on 18 March 2005, after the complainant's request for information and after subsequent request for a review. Therefore the information did not exist at the time of the request, and so the provisions of section 1(1)(a) did not apply and the Council were under no obligation to provide it. However, the Commissioner decided that the Council failed to comply with section 16(1) as they did not provide assistance to the complainant in making his request. This decision is currently under appeal to the Information Tribunal.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]