E-access to public information, case II SAB/Lu 10/12

June 4th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) requested the Mayor of Opole Lubelskie town to disclose information regarding the fund from the years 2009-2011. The request was sent via e-mail. The Mayor ordered the SLLGO to supplement formal defects of the request and claimed that this form of an electronic document must be signed by the certified electronic signature as referred to in the Polish Act of 17 February 2005 on the Informatization of Entities Performing Public Tasks – IEPPT – (in Polish: ustawa o informatyzacji działalności podmiotów realizujących zadania publiczne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 64, item 565 as amended, and the Act of 18 September 2001 on Electronic Signature – ESA – (in Polish: ustawa o podpisie elektronicznym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw), No 130, item 1450, with subsequent amendments. SLLGO refused to comply and argued that the provisions 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, allows for requesting the disclosure, even verbally, without any formality. The Mayor decided to leave the request without examination. The decision was based on the provisions of Article 64 § 2 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.

Article 64.
§ 1. The application will not be examined if the applicant’s address is not included in the application and it cannot be identified from the data available.
§ 2. If the application does not fulfil the requirements of law, the applicant shall be summoned to correct the defects within 7 days, with a notice advising that failure to comply will result in the application not being examined.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Lublin in its judgment of 20 March 2012 case file II SAB/Lu 10/12 ruled that the Mayor remained inactive and unjustifiably applied the provisions of the APC, therefore, the Court obliged the Mayor to examine the request. The authority that is obliged to disclose public information is not entitled to demand that a request submitted in electronic form has to be signed by any electronic signature. The Court reminded that the intention of the legislature was to unformalize the proceedings for the disclosure of public information, in order to ensure and fulfill the constitutional principle of openness of public life. The API indicates that a request for such information may take any form, and even the person requesting has not to be fully identified.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information” and “E-signatures in Poland“.