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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50066313
  • Date: 24 October 2005
  • Public Authority: Department of Trade and Industry
  • Summary: The Complainant requested details of legal advice sought by the DTI's legal department from Treasury Counsel in relation to complaints made about a franchise company. The complainant asked for the brief and evidence provided to Counsel, and the opinion of Counsel including details of all meetings, telephone calls, emails and letters. The advice centred on what, if any, action should be taken by the DTI as a result of the complaints. The DTI refused to disclose the information requested citing the exemptions provided by section 21 (information reasonably accessible by other means) and 42(1) (legal professional privilege). The DTI also refused to confirm or deny that it held information about an investigation into the company's activities. In doing so, it relied on the section 43(2) and (3) exemption (no duty to confirm or deny if to do so would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person). The Commissioner agreed that section 21 was correctly applied to certain documents accompanying the submission to Counsel which were available by other means. The Commissioner decided that the submission and further material provided to Counsel, and Counsel's advice, were covered by legal professional privilege, and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosure. The Commissioner further decided that the section 43 exemption had been appropriately applied and that the public interest in this instance was best served by maintaining the exemption. The Information Tribunal has ruled on this decision and has dismissed this appeal.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]