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If a report from a solicitor concerning ownership of a piece of land is an agenda item for discussion on on a Parish Council meeting agenda, should the report be available under FOI/EIR? The agenda item was not marked confidential and the public were present during the discussion.
Also part of what was discussed was the working of a letter from the PC to a resident(me), the draft of which was prepared by the Solicitor. However at the meeting the PC decided to refer the letter back to the solicitor for a change of wording. Should the draft of the letter and the proposed changes to the wording also be available under FOI/EIR, or as a subject access request? Kind regards
by (190 points)

1 Answer

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Regardless of whether an item was discussed in public or mentioned in an agenda, if it information that is held by the public authority then it is subject to the FOI / EIR regulatons.

As this relates to a piece of land then this will fall under EIR rather than FOI.

Regulation 12(4)(d) provides an exemption for unfinished documents. So the draft letter from the solicitor would be exempt from release.

It would be for the parish council to decide whether there are any exemptions that they could rely upon to stop the release of the solicitors report. At the least that would have to redact your personal details from the report.
by (5.1k points)
Thank you for taking the time to look at my question. I note the exemption at 12(4)(d). A finalised letter was sent to the PC for approval so I could see how that could potentially covered by 12(4)(d) However given that this is a letter from an purported independent legal expect and the changes decided by the PC were discussed in open session, I presumed that I would be entitled to know specifically what changes were recommended to the “expert’s letter?
Sorry,  i thought you were worried that your personal details might be revealed to other people that make a FOI/EIR request.

As it is your own data that you are requested then you need to make a Subject Access Request. This will not be affected by the unfinished documents exemption. They will need to release the draft letter to you.

Note however that SARs are only for recorded information. So if the discussions at the meeting were not recorded then you have no right to ask for them to write down after the event what they recall being discussed. Hopefully looking at the difference between the draft and final letters will give you enough information.
Thank you very much for coming back to me with that clarification. Much appreciated.

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