Tomos is a solicitor in Geldards’ Public Law team who has significant experience of advising public and private sector clients on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) and/or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR”), including where requests give rise to issues under the Data Protection Act 1998.
His experience includes advising on the interpretation of the FOIA and the EIR and the use of exemptions/exceptions, including assisting clients in drafting qualified persons’ opinions and evidencing the carrying out of the public interest test. This has often been in the context of major/and/or controversial planning or compulsory purchase (“CPO”) inquiries, acting on behalf of local planning authorities, acquiring authorities, developers or objectors to a scheme.
Recent examples of Tomos’ experience in this area include:
- Advising a local planning authority on requests for information relating to a major windfarm inquiry held by the Secretary of State. This included material which was in the course of completion and information which was subject to legal professional privilege.
- Advising an acquiring authority for a major road scheme on the applicability of the FOIA and EIR to certain statutory undertakers.
- Advising a local planning authority on a decision by another local authority to refuse to disclose information relevant to a planning enforcement matter.
- Acting for a developer seeking to obtain information relevant to a major planning inquiry relating to a proposed residential development scheme and appealing against a refusal by central and local government to disclose such information.
- Acting for objectors seeking to obtain information from a local planning authority.
- Advising a local authority on sensitive freedom of information and data protection issues arising in the context of child safeguarding.
- Advising a schools inspectorate body on a request for information relating to the formulation of a new school banding system. This involved reliance on the exemption engaged where disclosure would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs and preparing a qualified person’s written opinion to that effect.
- Regularly advising a museum on requests for information received in relation to various operational matters.