Successfully advised and appeared for a group of 19 water companies and water & sewerage companies faced with various extensive requests to disclose environmental informationunder the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (especially to a property search company).
The judgment is the first involving an appeal leap-frogging the First-tier Tribunal because it turned on a point of law of general importance, namely: whether such companies are “public authorities” for the purposes of those Regulations.
The Upper Tribunal held that they are not, and so are under no obligation to disclose environmental information; upholding the companies’ earlier victory before the Information Commissioner.
Beyond that preliminary point, the case raises issues about the ambit of “environmental information” and the application of various disclosure exceptions (including national security).
In mid-2012 the Upper Tribunal referred the parallel Fish Legal case to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling, which is expected sometime in 2014.