Environmental information: the exception for ‘proceedings of public authorities’

October 20th, 2016

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 contain an exception from the duty to disclose information where disclosure would adversely affect “the confidentiality of the proceedings of that or any other public authority where such confidentiality is provided by law” (regulation 12(5)(d)). There is an equivalent provision in Directive 2003/4/EC. What is meant by the “proceedings” of a public authority?I don’t intend to give chapter and verse on the question here, but simply to draw attention to the Advocate General’s recent opinion in Saint-Gobain Glass Deutschland GmbH (Case C‑60/15 P).

The AG’s view is that the exception must be construed narrowly, in accordance with the Aarhus Convention. So “proceedings” can’t mean the entirety of any given procedure undertaken by. It can only refer to the internal aspects of such a procedure, in order to protect the protect the public authority’s deliberations (see paras 42-62).

I’ll post with some more details once we get the CJEU’s judgment. For the meantime, EIR fans may ask: if that is what regulation 12(5)(d) means, what does it add to the “internal communications” exception under regulation 12(4)(e)?

Robin Hopkins @hopkinsrobin

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