Line to take - LTT110 - Drafts of documents where final versions are complete

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  • FOI/EIR: EIR
  • Section/Regulation: reg 12(4)(d)
  • Issue: Drafts of documents where final versions are complete
  • Source: Policy team, DN
  • Details: n/a
  • Related Lines to Take: n/a
  • Related Documents: EC Directive 2003/4/EC, FS50156849 (DfT)
  • Contact: LB
  • Date: 20/06/2008
  • Policy Reference: LTT110


Line to take

Once the final version of a document has been completed, earlier drafts of that document will not be exempt under regulation 12(4)(d) EIR.

Further Information

Regulation 12(4) provides:

“For the purposes of paragraph (1 )(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that—
(d) the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data”

Article 4(2) of the Directive from which the EIR are derived states that “the grounds for refusal...shall be interpreted in a restrictive way”. Further, the wording of the exception is that the information requested must not itself be in the course of completion, however must only relate to material which is in the course of completion.

Therefore, earlier drafts of documents, where the final versions have been completed, relate to the completed material. The fact that the drafts themselves could be considered to be unfinished (ie they do not constitute the final, completed version) is not sufficient for the exception to be engaged.

The Commissioner adopted this approach in FER0156849. In that case, the applicant had requested a draft of a report prepared by an independent advisor to government, Sir Rod Eddington, from the Department for Transport (DfT). At the time the request was made, the final version of the report had been published. The Decision Notice states:

….the draft report cannot be regarded as ‘material in the course of completion’ as the final version of the study had already been published prior to the request being made, and as such the material contained in the draft report would now be considered to be completed. Furthermore, the Commissioner does not believe that the request relates to incomplete data for the same reasons.

Regulation 14(4) provides:

If the exception in regulation I 2(4)(d) is specified in the refusal, the authority shall also specify, if known to the public authority, the name of any other public authority preparing the information and the estimated time in which the information will be finished or completed. (my emphasis)

It is important to note that regulation 12(4)(d) is not directly equivalent to section 22 FOIA (information intended for future publication). In respect of regulation 12(4)(d), the relevant event by which the exception will cease to apply is completion, not publication, as evidenced by regulation 14(4).