Archive for: Art. 14 §1 APC

E-access to public information, case IV SA/Gl 1002/11

October 14th, 2011, Tomasz Rychlicki

A journalists requested one of the Polish companies to disclose information about the earnings of its directors (CEOs) and members of the supervisory board. He also wanted to know how many prizes, bonuses and other financial inducements were received by the CEO and the board members in the last three years, and how much the company has spent on advertising and promotion, how much spending and subsidies were distributed for non-governmental organizations, staff training, banquets and small meetings. He also demanded the indication of dates, names and amounts, the method of selecting contractors. This request was based on 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. The journalist noted that the expected response should be sent to him via e-mail. The company provided information only on salaries, and refused to disclose other information that was subject to the request. The decision has been sent in the form of an electronic document to an e-mail address provided by a journalist. The company noted that other information belong to the category of “processed information”, therefore, the applicant has to indicate why the disclosure of such information is particularly important for the public interest. The journalist filed a complaint against this decision.

The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gliwice in its judgment of 19 September 2011 case file IV SA/Gl 1002/11 rejected it, because of procedural reasons. However, the VAC held that the administration decision issued in the form of an electronic document must be signed by a secure electronic signature that is verifiable by a valid qualified certificate. The administrative decision that does not meet these requirements can not be regarded as signed, and therefore is not valid according to the provisions of Article 14 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 14. Principle of written proceedings
§ 1. All matters shall be disposed of in writing or in the form of an electronic document as defined in the Act of 17 February 2005 on Informatization of Operation of Entities Performing Public Tasks (Journal of Laws No. 64, item 565, as ammended), to be served by means of electronic communication.

The VAC also noted that in this case the decision has not been delivered in the proper form.

Article 110.
The public administration body issuing the decision shall be bound by it from the time of its service or publication, unless the Code provides otherwise.

Although in this case the content of the decision was known but it was not delivered in the form provided in the provisions of the APC. The decision was in fact delivered in writing but it was served by electronic means and in a way that was inconsistent with the provisions of APC, which could not be considered as effective service.

See also “E-signature law, case II SA/Gd 573/10“, “E-signature law, case I OPP 25/08“, “E-signatures in Poland“, and “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.