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FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL

Information Rights
Tribunal Reference: EA/2012/0254 Appellant: xxxx xxxxx Respondent: The Information Commissioner Date: 29 January 2013
Appellants Reply (rule 24)

I serve this reply in accordance with rule 24 of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (General Regulatory Chamber) Rules 2009. At paragraph 7 of the Commissioners 25 January 2013 response to the Tribunal, it is expressed that the Council changed its response and stated the requested information was held after all, and estimated that the costs of compliance with the request would exceed the appropriate limit under section 12 of the FOIA. At this juncture the Commissioners explanation of the relevant law (paragraphs 913), has in fact, no relevance to the request, as section 12 of the FOIA should never have applied. The council did not hold the information to comply with the request, despite changing its response to the contrary. There was therefore no relevance to estimating the cost of supplying the information as it was unable to comply anyway. Why the information was not held The Commissioner based his decision to uphold the refusal of the request on the councils explanation that the appropriate limit would be exceeded. The limit would have been exceeded by a considerable margin, it seems, because of the way data was stored on the system. The explanation also revealed that in certain circumstances some cases do not have a return file but more crucially all cases where payment had been made in full to the bailiff had no return file. The significance of this is simply if theres no return file, the council does not hold information in respect of that case and consequently will not be able to comply with the FoI request. The Commissioner had acknowledged this at paragraph 23 of his decision notice. Councils explanation headed, cases without a return file. The check also showed that the cases which had been paid in full to the bailiff did not have a return file. On further investigation if cases are paid in full to the bailiff then North East Lincolnshire Council does not receive paperwork for each separate case. This means that North East Lincolnshire Council does not hold the information for cases that have been paid

in full to the bailiff. The only information North East Lincolnshire Council holds is the payment received from the bailiff which is for the debt only.

As stated in the explanation to the Commissioner, North East Lincolnshire Council does not hold the information for cases that have been paid in full to the bailiff. Cases that have been paid in full to the bailiff are the ones most likely to return results in relation to the information detailed in my request. To reinforce this, the council have stated in a previous correspondence that the Head H fee is charged after all Council Tax Arrears and fees are paid in full. The extract is included as a separate file and provided to the Tribunal and Respondent with this Reply. This had been emphasised in emails of the 12 January and 12 December 2012 to the council, i.e., at various stages of the FoI request, and in an email to the Case Officer 27 June 2012. ......the Head H fee had not been added at this point. This fee is the final charge to be taken after all Council Tax Arrears and other bailiff fees are paid in full.... Given the council could not possibly have complied with the request (information was not held), its inconceivable that section 12 FOIA could have been applied appropriately in this case. So, details submitted in my notice of appeal were the most appropriate grounds to appeal the decision to not supply the information. Rossendales are contractually obliged to cooperate with the council for the purpose of complying with the FoI Act 2000 and is detailed in my notice of appeal. There is no apparent reason why Rossendales could not have produced the data. The councils contractor not only for good business practice but also as a legal requirement would have these records. HM Revenue & Customs require accounting records which must contain entries showing all money received by the company and records of daily takings. It is legally required to retain these for at least six years.