The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority v The Information Commissioner and Another: CA 28 Apr 2015

A journalist had requested the appellant who published the claims made by Members of Parliament for expenses to its website had requested in addition copies of the receipts produced by the MPs to justify three claims. The Authority provided a narrative from the receipts but declined to provide copies. The information Commissioner, and tribunals required production of the full copies. The Authority now appealed on two broad issues: ‘(1) whether, by providing transcripts rather than copies of the invoices themselves, IPSA failed to communicate recorded information to which Mr Leapman was entitled; and (2) whether the means of communication adopted by IPSA were nevertheless sufficient in the circumstances to satisfy its duty to comply with Mr Leapman’s request.’
Held: As to the provision of copies only, the Commissioner’s approach to this issue was legally correct and that the conclusion he reached on it was properly open to him.
As to the adequacy of what was provided: ‘The duty correlative to the section 1(1) entitlement is inherent in section 1(1) itself. Just as the person making a request for information has a two-fold entitlement under the subsection, namely (a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and (b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him; so the public authority to which the request is made has a correlative two-fold duty, (a) to inform the person in writing whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and (b) if that is the case, to communicate that information to him . . section 1(1) imposes a requirement or duty, with which a public authority is obliged to comply, to communicate the information to which the person requesting it is entitled, and that such duty is independent of section 11.’
As to the import of section 11: ‘the provision imposes an additional duty on the public authority where, on making the request for information, the applicant expresses a preference for communication by any one or more of the means specified. The public authority is required, so far as reasonably practicable, to give effect to that preference. Where it is not reasonably practicable to give effect to the preference, or where no preference has been expressed, the public authority may, by section 11(4), comply with the request by communicating information by any means which are reasonable in the circumstances. That provision gives the public authority a discretion as to the means by which the information required by section 1(1) is communicated, but it does not empower the public authority to communicate less information than section 1(1) requires. It does not qualify the entitlement or the duty under section 1(1). If the chosen means of communication results in a shortfall as between the information communicated and the information to which the person is entitled under section 1(1), the public authority is in breach of its duty under section 1(1).’

Lord Dyson MR, Richards, Ryder LJJ
[2015] EWCA Civ 388
Freedom of Information Act 2000 1 11 84
England and Wales
See AlsoIndependent Parliamentary Standards Authority v Information Commissioner FTTGRC 29-Apr-2013
A journalist requested access to and had been refused, invoices used by members of parliament to support their expenses claims. . .
CitedCommon Services Agency v Scottish Information Commissioner HL 9-Jul-2008
An MP had asked the Agency under the 2002 Act for details of all incidents of childhood leukaemia for both sexes by year from 1990 to 2003 for all the DG (Dumfries and Galloway) postal area by census ward. The Agency replied by saying that the . .
CitedGlasgow City Council v Scottish Information Commissioner SCS 30-Sep-2009
‘These appeals raise important questions as to the interpretation and application of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. In particular, questions arise as to what is meant by ‘information’, as that term is used in the Act; as to who is . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.545942