Daniel Macyszyn, acting as the President of the ePaństwo Foundation, asked the First President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland to disclose information why and on what legal basis, the Supreme Court in its decision No. BSA III – 055-90/11 posted references to the LEX software that is published by Wolters Kluwer, in situation when information available under these references is available for free and in public repositories that are published by the Supreme Administrative Court, and there are also other commercial legal information systems available on the Polish market. The Foundation wanted to know, whether the Supreme Court has the license for the use of LEX software. If the answer was positive, the Foundation inquired when, and in what procedure, and for what price and how many licences were purchased, and what were the criteria for selecting this software. Mr Macyszyn also aksed why the Supreme Court uses this software and not the public and free resources such as repositories of decisions of administrative courts, provided by the Supreme Administrative Court and the gazettes published by the Government Legislative Centre. The last question was whether the Supreme Court cooperates with the Wolters Kluwer on matters other than purchasing a license by the Supreme Court to the LEX. The First President refused to initiate proceedings with regard to disclosure of the requested information and noted that civil law contracts between public authorities with third parties operating in the sphere of private law, do not belong to the category of public information, consequently, they cannot be disclosed to anybody. Such contracts do not in fact belong to the category of “public information” within the meaning of Article 6(1) pt. 4 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 6. 1. The following information is subject to being made available, in particular on:
1) internal and foreign policy, including:
a) intentions of legislative and executive authorities,
b) drafts on normative acts,
c) programmes on realisation of public tasks, method of their realisation, performance and consequences of the realisation of these tasks,
2) entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, including:
a) legal status or legal form,
c) subject of activity and competencies,
d) bodies and persons performing functions therein and competencies,
e) property structure of entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, points 3-5,
f) property they dispose of,
3) principles of functioning of entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, including:
a) mode of conduct of public authorities and their organisational units,
b) mode of conduct of state legal persons and legal persons of local authorities in the area of performing public tasks and their activity within the frames of budget and non-budget economy,
c) methods of passing private-public acts,
d) methods of accepting and settling matters,
e) state of accepted cases, order of their settling or resolving,
f) conducted registers, books and archives and on methods and principles of making data there contained available,
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,
b) opinion on public issues made by the bodies of public authority and by the public officers in the understanding of the provisions of the Penal Code,
c) contents of other presentations and assessments made by the bodies of public authority,
d) information on the condition of the state, local authorities and their organisational units,
5) public property, including:
a) property of the State Treasury and state legal persons,
b) other property rights to which the state and its debts are entitled to,
c) property of the units of local authority and professional and economic local authorities as well as property of legal persons of local authorities and the ill persons’ offices,
d) property of the entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, point 5, coming from disposing of the property, defined in c. a) – c) as well as the profits from this property and its encumbrances,
e) incomes and losses of the commercial companies in which the entities, defined in c. a) – c) hold the dominant position in the understanding of the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code and disposal of this income and the method of covering losses,
f) public debt,
g) public assistance,
h) public burden.
2. The official document in the understanding of this Act is the text of declaration of will or knowledge, preserved and signed in any form by the public officer in the understanding of the provisions of the Penal Code within the frames of its competencies, directed to another entity or filed to the acts.
The Foundation requested for the re-hearing and the First President again refused. Daniel Macyszyn filed a complaint against these two refusal orders.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 10 January 2012 case file II SA/Wa 2257/11 repealed both orders of the First President and ruled them unenforceable. The First President filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 September 2012 case file I OSK 903/12 dismissed it and held that any agreement between the public authorities and other entities, is deemed as public information. The Supreme Administrative Court pointed out that in matters of access to public information, the public authority cannot refuse to initiate proceedings. It have to either disclose public information, or if there are situations provided in Article 5 of the API, refuse to disclose such information, but in the form of a decision. But even while considering by the authority, whether the requested information is public information, or in case that would lead to the answer that the information is not public information, or that the authority simply does not have it, the proceedings were already initiated, therefore it cannot refuse to initiate it.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 September 2012 case file I OSK 916/12 dismissed another cassation complaint filed by the First President against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 10 January 2012 case file II SA/Wa 2259/11 that repealed orders of the First President of the Supreme Court in which it refused to initiate proceedings to disclose information on the content of the contracts, which the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, the authorities or persons acting under the authority of the government, concluded with the company Wolters Kluwer, with regard to series of books published by Wolters Kluwer such as “Studies and analysis of the Supreme Court” and “Bulletin of the Supreme Court – Labour and Social Security and Public Affairs Chamber”, and the disclosure
of the contents of the contracts, which the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, the authorities or any person acting from on behalf of the authorities, have concluded with the publishing house LexisNexis Publishing sp. z o.o,, with regard to a series of publications such as “The case law of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber (OSNC)”, “The case law of the Supreme Court – Labour, Social Security and Public Affairs Chamber (OSNP)”, and disclosure of the contents of the contracts, which the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, the authorities or persons acting under the authority of the government, concluded with the Editorial Board of the “Palestra” with regard to a series of publications entitled “The case law of the Supreme Court – Criminal Chamber and the Military Chamber (OSNKW)”. The Foundation requested also the disclosure of information on what procedure governed the purchase of the above mentioned periodicals by the Supreme Court, in what amounts and for what price.