The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) – as we must now learn to call it – has recently published on its website a list of its current cases (updated to 20th January 2010).  This gives an interesting insight into the volume and type of work reaching the Tribunal.

Cases are numbered by year of receipt, and in the order that they are received: for instance,  EA/2009/100 is the 100th case received in 2009.  This means that the case numbering system indicates how many appeals were received in a particular calendar year.  On this basis, the Tribunal seems to have received 123 cases in 2009, and 30 (so far) in 2010;  which suggests a sudden sharp increase in its workload.

The list shows 102 live cases.  Of these, only one is identified as a Data Protection Act case.  11 cases are identified as involving the Environmental Information Regulations.  All of the other appeals (90 cases) are brought solely under the Freedom of Information Act.

As the figures suggest, free-standing DPA cases before the Tribunal are rare.  There are also few DPA cases that reach the ordinary courts.  But many FOIA cases involve DPA issues.  So a significant volume of DPA case-law is being generated by the Tribunal; but most of this is in the context of FOIA, and in particular the data protection exemption in FOIA section 40.