Laura Elizabeth John appeared for the Information Commissioner
“The laws are no longer fit for purpose”, reported the Information Commissioner to Parliament last year – “In the modern age, public services are delivered in many ways by many organisations. Yet not all of these organisations are subject to access to information laws.”
In a judgment that will be of interest to a number of entities, particularly in the transport and utilities sectors, the Upper Tribunal in IC v Poplar Housing Association  UKUT 182 (AAC) has provided a boost to this analysis, upholding a narrow definition of “public authority” under Regulation 2(2)(c) of the Environmental Information Regulations (“EIR”) that will exclude many organisations from the scope of the regime.
The case concerned whether a housing association, Poplar, was a “public authority” within the meaning of Article 2(2)(c) of the EIR. Poplar was a community benefit society set up with the transfer of some of the London Borough of Tower Hamlet’s housing stock. Poplar was registered with the Regulator of Social Housing as a private registered provider of social housing, and owned approximately 13% of the social housing in Tower Hamlets. As a private registered provider, Poplar had certain statutory powers not available to non-registered landlords, designed to allow it to manage tenants without the need to resort to evictions, for example through seeking injunctions against anti-social behaviour or seeking parenting orders or the grant of a family intervention tenancy.
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The comments made in this case note are wholly personal and do not reflect the views of any other members of Monckton Chambers, its tenants or clients.