Planning appeal legal advice (FOI)
Planning appeal legal advice (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 28 May 2019.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
At a Judicial Greffe Planning Appeal Hearing on 5 April 2019 (P/2018/1112), the Growth, Housing and Environment department (GHE) were asked by the Inspector to obtain legal advice from the Government of Jersey lawyers regarding the legal status of a 'relief'. A Third Response has been issued on behalf of GHE undated and issued on 26 April 2019. It is not clear what, if any, legal advice was obtained by GHE. The Hearing is a free and open discussion designed to bring clarity to the situation surrounding the issue of a planning decision. We are acting on behalf of our client and need to see the advice given to GHE.
The information you have requested is exempt under Article 31 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 (the “FOI Law”)
31 Advice by the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff or a Law Officer
Information is qualified exempt information if it is or relates to the provision of advice by the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff or the Attorney General or the Solicitor General.
Article 31 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test is required to be undertaken to examine the circumstances of the case and decide if, on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
The following considerations were taken into account:
1) Disclosure of the information would support transparency and promote accountability to the general public.
2) Article 31 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 recognises the longstanding constitutional Convention that government does not reveal whether Law Officers have or have not advised on a particular issue, or the content of any such advice.
3) However it is recognised that the strong public interest in protecting Law Officers’ advice may still be overridden in some cases, if there are particularly strong factors in favour of disclosure.
4) Disclosures of information are in effect to the world at large and not merely to an individual requester. So the requester’s private interests are not in themselves the same as the public interest and what may serve those private interests does not necessarily serve a wider public interest.
5) Disclosing advice or whether advice has been sought could inhibit the Law Officers from:
a) giving frank advice
b) inhibit government bodies in taking advice for fear of its publication; and
c) inhibit the full disclosure to the Law Officers of all material relevant to the advice being sought,
After considering the points above we consider that the balance falls in favour of maintaining the exemption as the public interest in favour of disclosure does not outweigh the preservation of the Convention on this occasion.