States Grants to CICRA (FOI)
States Grants to CICRA (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 13 November 2017.
Please provide details of the annual amount given to the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authority (CICRA) by the States in each of the last five years and from which departmental budgets the funding is from.
Please provide details of any extra funding given to CICRA specifically in relation to their court case with ATF Fuels. Please provide details as to which departmental budgets any additional funding has come from.
How much was spent by CICRA in legal fees and costs associated with the court case.
The information you have requested in question 1 is exempt under Article 23 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 because the information is already accessible to you by other means. The link below provides you access to the States Annual Financial report and Accounts. The amount you require is under the section for Grants.
States of Jersey accounts
The information you have requested in question 2 is exempt under Article 23 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 because the information is already accessible to you by other means.
Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority investigations (FOI)
Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority: Grant
The Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) is refusing part 3 of the request under articles 26, 33, 34 and 42 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011.
This is confidential information which a law firm providing professional services would not expect to be disclosed. It is implied that lawyers fees would not ordinarily be disclosed by their client and therefore this type of information remains confidential.
It is not considered there would be a defence that the disclosure was in the public interest to the extent it overrides the SPA’s obligation of confidence because although the spending of public finances is in the public interest, it is also in the public’s interest that the SPA’s bargaining position on legal fees is not weakened and a fair trial can be held.
The SPA believes that disclosure of the information would mean that a local law firm may be able to deduce fees paid to another law firm and vice versa as there are only two parties involved. It is not therefore considered to be in the commercial interests of either party to disclose this information. If it became accepted practice to disclose this type of information, apart from offending Article 26, the ability of the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) to procure legal advice at the best cost and quality may be likely to be prejudiced in future because some law firms may not want to bid for work where their fees are likely to become public information.
Finally it would affect the SPA’s ability to have some oversight of the fees as required by the Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005 in order to release funds to the JCRA. The relationship with the JCRA would be damaged and it would not be as willing to share information necessary for the SPA to make informed decisions.
The SPA does not believe that it is in the public interest as a whole to release this information because although the spending of public finances is in the public interest, it is also in the public’s interest that the SPA’s bargaining position on legal fees is not weakened.
The SPA considers that should this detail be released it could harm the financial interests of Jersey. Article 34 is a qualified exemption. It also requires the SPA to consider if those financial interests would be prejudiced by the disclosure of the information requested. The prejudice must be real, actual and of substance with a causal link between disclosure and the prejudice claimed.
Professor Sir John Vickers noted in the forward to the Oxera review of the Jersey regulatory and competition framework that “Conducting competition and regulatory policy well is hard, but the economic benefits can be substantial.” In order for the competition system to work as well as it can it is necessary for the Competition Authority to have operational independence.
Nevertheless, a theme of the Oxera report is that the government has a role to play as well. Managing the boundary between what the JCRA does and what the government does is sensitive and creating an environment where some exchange of information where matters of responsibility overlap is necessary and requires a high degree of confidence between the JCRA and the Government. Introducing a fear of disclosure is likely to damage what information might be shared in future and thereby harm the competition system overall, thus damaging the economic interests of the Island.
If there is scope to test the limits of the budget available to the JCRA as a legal strategy because an interested party has access to granular financial information then it would not be in the interests of the JCRA, the States of Jersey or the public to disclose the information.
The information you request regards an ongoing court case. It would not be appropriate to disclose the level of costs which have already been incurred. Article 42 is a qualified exemption and is subject of a public interest test. The public interest is that both parties, the JCRA and the appellant, have a fair hearing and that the outcome is delivered in an impartial way in the interests of developing the competition system through case law. If there is a risk that this could
be affected by strategies around the available budgets to either the JCRA or the appellant it is not in the public interest to introduce that dynamic into the appeal.
Article 23 - Information accessible to applicant by other means
(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it is reasonably available to the applicant, otherwise than under this Law, whether or not free of charge.
(2) A scheduled public authority that refuses an application for information on this ground must make reasonable efforts to inform the applicant where the applicant may obtain the information.
Article 26 - Information supplied in confidence
Information is absolutely exempt information if –
(a) it was obtained by the scheduled public authority from another person (including another public authority); and
(b) the disclosure of the information to the public by the scheduled public authority holding it would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by that or any other person.
Article 33 - Commercial interests
Information is qualified exempt information if –
(a) it constitutes a trade secret; or
(b) its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of a person (including the scheduled public authority holding the information).
Article 34 - The economy
Information is qualified exempt information if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice –
(a) the economic interests of Jersey; or
(b) the financial interests of the States of Jersey.
Article 42 - Law enforcement
Information is qualified exempt if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice –
(a) the prevention, detection or investigation of crime, whether in Jersey or elsewhere;
(b) the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, whether in respect of offences committed in Jersey or elsewhere;
(c) the administration of justice, whether in Jersey or elsewhere;
(d) the assessment or collection of a tax or duty of an imposition of a similar nature;
(e) the operation of immigration controls, whether in Jersey or elsewhere;
(f) the maintenance of security and good order in prisons or in other institutions where persons are lawfully detained;
(g) the proper supervision or regulation of financial services; or
(h) the exercise, by the Jersey Financial Services Commission, of any function imposed on it by any enactment.