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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50211872
  • Date: 23 March 2010
  • Public Authority: Valuation Office Agency
  • Summary: In 2008, the complainant corresponded with the Rent Service over a period of six months requesting detail regarding the methods by which rental information was gathered in the local area. Having received some answers, the complainant requested a review of the Rent Service’s failure to disclose information about the letting agents used to create rental lists for the setting of rents. She also wanted to know which letting agent had quoted a particularly low rent for two bungalows. The Rent Service refused to disclose the requested information and cited section 40(2) (personal information), section 41 (information provided in confidence), section 43(2) (commercial interests) and section 36 (prejudice to the conduct of public affairs). A complaint was made to the Information Commissioner’s Office and, following an internal review, the Rent Service was asked to provide the information to the Commissioner. On 1 April 2009, the Rent Service was absorbed into the Valuation Office Agency (the ‘VOA’) which is an executive agency of HM Revenue and Customs. On 30 April 2009 the VOA responded to the Commissioner and informed him that it was now also citing section 44 as a new exemption. The VOA argued that section 18 of The Commissioner’s for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 gave it an absolute exemption from disclosure. The Commissioner finds that the section 44 exemption cannot be applied retrospectively in this case but that because the statutory prohibition does now apply to the information it would not be appropriate for him to consider any steps to order disclosure of the withheld information. Therefore the decision notice does not consider any of the exemptions originally claimed.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]