E-access to public information, case II SAB/Sz 148/09

February 20th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Szczecin in its judgment of 16 December 2009 case file II SAB/Sz 148/09 held that the general principle set in article 61 of the Polish Constitution, is the access to information on the activities of public authorities. Any exceptions to this rule should be formulated explicitly, and all doubts should be resolved in favor of the access.

Article 61
1. A citizen shall have the right to obtain information on the activities of organs of public authority as well as persons discharging public functions. Such right shall also include receipt of information on the activities of self-governing economic or professional organs and other persons or organizational units relating to the field in which they perform the duties of public authorities and manage communal assets or property of the State Treasury.

2. The right to obtain information shall ensure access to documents and entry to sittings of collective organs of public authority formed by universal elections, with the opportunity to make sound and visual recordings.

3. Limitations upon the rights referred to in paras. 1 and 2 above, may be imposed by statute solely to protect freedoms and rights of other persons and economic subjects, public order, security or important economic interests of the State.

4. The procedure for the provision of information, referred to in paras. 1 and 2 above shall be specified by statute, and regarding the Sejm and the Senate by their rules of procedure.

Judgments of the Polish courts are information on public matters according to the provisions of Article 1(1) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Each information on public matters constitutes public information in the understanding of the Act and is subject to being made available on the basis of principles and under the provisions defined in this Act.

The Court held that according to article 6(1) point 4 letter (a) of the API, a judgment is an official document that should be made available according to the procedures and principles set in the API.

Article 6(1)
The following information is subject to being made available, in particular on:
4) public data, including:
a)contents and form of official documents, in particular:
– contents of administrative acts and other resolutions,
– documentation on the control and its effects as well as presentations, opinions, conclusions and statements of the entities having conducted the control,

The Court also noted that anyone is allowed to request the access to public information in electronic form or in the traditional way, on paper.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.