Access to public information, case II SAB/Lu 44/10

October 26th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

A resident of Lubartów town has requested the mayor to deliver a photocopy of the legal opinion on a referendum on the development of the local square. The mayor refused on the grounds that the opinion is not public information within the meaning 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.

Article 1.1 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.
2. The provisions of the Act shall not breach the provisions of other acts defining different principles and the mode of access to the information being public information.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Lublin in its judgment of 17 August 2010 case file II SAB/Lu 44/10, decided on the failure to act against the mayor of Lubartow. The Court ruled that a legal opinion prepared for a particular case or cases, serving as an internal document dealing with issues and tasks of the authority is public information. Such opinion applies to the facts had been made in the organizational structure of the authority, it concerns its activities, and therefore in accordance with Article 1(1) of the API is deemed as public information. The court noted also that the obligation to provide public information arises only if it was not previously available and does not function in public circulation, and the person concerned cannot familiarize with it otherwise than by making a request for making the public information available.