Last week I posted on a judicial review claim which was then being heard in the High Court on the question of access to property search information held by local authorities. Judgment was handed down in the case last Friday – OneSearch Direct v City of York Council [2010] EWHC 590 (Admin). The case involved an attempt by a property search company (OneSearch) to gain direct access to unrefined property records held by a local authority. The advantage to OneSearch of gaining such direct access is that it would not have to pay to receive the relevant property search information through what is commonly known as the ‘CON29R’ system. The CON29R system typically entails local authorities providing answers to property search enquiries (on a form known as the CON29R form) and then charging for the provision of that information under the Local Authorities (England) (Charges for Property Searches) Regulations 2008. When OneSearch’s request for direct access to the records was refused by the council, the company brought a claim for judicial review against the council. In that claim, which was treated as a test case, OneSearch argued that denying access to the unrefined records was unlawful having regard to the statutory purpose and intention underlying the relevant local authority legislative scheme. Hickenbottom J rejected OneSearch’s claim. He held that it was entirely lawful and in accordance with the statutory scheme for the council to opt to provide the relevant property search information through the CON29R system. This judgment will come as a blow to those property search companies who see the CON29R system as a costly system which unjustly allows local authorities to exploit their monopolistic position as controllers of property search records. Notably, the rights of access available under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 were not relied upon by OneSearch in this case – cf my recent post on the case of East Riding Council v ICO & York Place. 11KBW’s Jason Coppel acted on behalf of the council.