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Neutral Citation Number: 2014 UKUT 33 AAC
Reported Number:
File Number: GIA 2383 2013
Appellant: The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
Respondent: The Information Commissioner and Leapman
Judge/Commissioner: Judge D. Williams
Date Of Decision: 28/04/2015
Date Added: 30/01/2014
Main Category: Information rights
Main Subcategory: Freedom of information - public authority response
Secondary Category: Information rights
Secondary Subcategory: Information rights: practice and procedure
Notes: Court of Appeal decision reported as [2015] AACR 37. Freedom of information – meaning of information – whether transcripts sufficient to satisfy the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s statutory duty The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is the statutory body established to oversee the process for reimbursing expenses claims submitted by Members of Parliament. IPSA published details of the claims but did not provide copies of the actual invoices or receipts. In December 2010 Mr Leapman made a request, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), for all the recorded information contained within the original receipts submitted by three MPs. IPSA provided him with a transcript of the information contained within the documents but not the documents themselves. Mr Leapman complained to the Information Commissioner who held that the request for “original receipts” should be interpreted as a request for all the recorded information contained within the receipts and that the transcripts omitted some of that information, including characters, logos and letterheads, handwriting and/or manuscript comments and the document’s layout, style and/or design. The Commissioner concluded that IPSA should provide copies of the receipts themselves so as to comply with section 1(1) of FOIA. IPSA appealed unsuccessfully to the First-tier Tribunal (F-tT) and the Upper Tribunal (UT) before appealing to the Court of Appeal. The main issues before the court were whether IPSA had failed to communicate recorded information to which Mr Leapman was entitled and whether the transcripts provided were nevertheless sufficient in the circumstances under section 11 of FOIA. Held, dismissing the appeal, that: 1. as detailed exemptions were provided within the framework of FOIA, “information” did not need to be narrowly construed and moreover was not limited to words and figures but extended to visual and aural information. The fact that material was capable of informing an inquiry into the genuineness of a document was relevant to the assessment of whether it constituted information. The fact that disclosure of the record may be necessary in order to give effect to the entitlement to the information did not undermine the conceptual distinction between the record and the information and did not confuse the statutory entitlement to recorded information with an entitlement to the record. The disputed material in the instant case, while close to the dividing line, was recorded information (paragraphs 33 to 41); 2. section 1(1) of FOIA imposed a requirement or duty upon a public authority to communicate the information to which the person requesting it was entitled. The function of section 11(1) was separate and imposed an additional duty on the public authority where, on making a request for information, the applicant expressed a preference for communication by any one or more of the means specified. The public authority was required, so far as reasonably practicable, to give effect to that preference. If the chosen means of communication resulted in a shortfall between the information communicated and the information to which the person was entitled under section 1(1), then the public authority would have breached its statutory duty. Accordingly, section 11 could not operate to limit the information that a public authority was obliged to disclose (paragraphs 56 to 59).
Decision(s) to Download: GIA 2383 2013-00.doc GIA 2383 2013-00.doc  
[2015] AACR 37ws.doc [2015] AACR 37ws.doc