Ann Court correspondence (FOI)
Ann Court correspondence (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 14 January 2019.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
Please could you provide copies of all emails regarding any aspect of the development of Ann Court, sent to or received by any of the following parties since 1 October 2018:
The Chief Minister
The Treasury Minister
The Housing Minister
Please find enclosed the results of the email search of the Housing Minister’s emails.
Housing Ministers emails (Redacted)
Please note that emails received by the Chief Minister and the Treasury Minister have been provided in response to a previous Freedom of Information request and are therefore exempt under Article 23 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011. They can be viewed at the following link:
Ann Court development correspondence (FOI)
Article 25 Personal information
(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018.
(2) Information is absolutely exempt information if –
(a) it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018; and
(b) its supply to a member of the public would contravene any of the data protection principles, as defined in that Law.
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 33(b) Commercial interests
Information is qualified exempt information if –
(a) the economic interests of Jersey; 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 33 (b) is a prejudice-based exemption. That means that in order to engage this exemption there must be a likelihood that disclosure would cause prejudice to the interest that the exemption protects. In addition, this is a qualified exemption and consideration must be given to the public interest in maintaining the exemption.
The Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) considers that the sections of emails redacted under Article 33 could prejudice the commercial interests of both the States of Jersey and third parties. There may be public interest in the commercial information however it was considered that this is outweighed by the potential for commercial and / or financial damage.
Article 35 Formulation and development of policies
Information is qualified exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of any proposed policy by a public authority.
The SPA is withholding the release of certain parts of the information as it relates to the formulation and development of policy by the public authority.
Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test is required to be undertaken by the SPA. It is therefore necessary for the scheduled public authority to examine the circumstances of the case. Following assessment the SPA has to decide whether, on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Although there is a need for transparency, accountability, financial and good decision making by public authorities this information relates to an ongoing situation. The SPA, and indeed good government, requires Ministers to be provided with full, frank advice from officials about the possible impact of proposed policy, and for Ministers and officials to be able to discuss and test those proposed policies in a comprehensive way.
The following considerations were taken into account:
Public interest considerations favouring disclosure
disclosure of the information would support transparency and promote accountability to the general public, providing confirmation that the necessary discussions have taken place
disclosure to the public fulfils an educative role about the early stages in policy development and illustrates how the department engages with parties for this purpose
Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information
in order to best develop policy and provide advice to Ministers, officials need a safe space in which free and frank discussion can take place. The need for this safe space is considered at its greatest during the live stages of a policy. Sharing views internally within the Department and across Government is important to ensure that all relevant considerations are taken into account in developing and implementing policy. Disclosure at a time when these views are still being considered would negatively impact the Department’s ability to fully consider the information
release of the information at this stage might generate misinformed debate in areas where future options have yet to be finalised. This would affect the ability of officials to consider and develop policy away from external pressures, and to advise Ministers appropriately
premature disclosure of this information may limit the willingness of parties to provide their honest views and feedback. This would hamper and harm the policy–making process not only in relation to this subject area but in respect of future policy development across wider Departmental business
Taking into account the various factors, the SPA has applied redactions where necessary to maintain this exemption.
It should also be noted that once a policy is formulated and published, the public interest in withholding information relating to its formulation is diminished, however, the use of the exemption can be supported if it preserves sufficient freedom during the policy formulation phase to explore options without that process being hampered by some expectation of future publication.