Court appeals




RNCCA vs. the City of Sofia

The Regional Nature Conservation Centre Association Talking on Friendly Terms to Nature served four applications on 7 August 2001 to the City of Sofia, requesting access to information about the programme for reduction of the number of stray dogs, the privatisation of the stray dogs centre in the vilage of Mirovyane, the contract between the City of Sofia and a private company for the reduction of the number of stray dogs at that centre, and the decision of the City Council on granting subsidies for free-of-charge castration of stray dogs. None of them was answered within the time limits prescribed by law.

On 31 August 2001, an appeal was drawn up in connection with the first application. On 18 September 2001, a notice was received from the Deputy Mayor of the City of Sofia with a request for providing evidence of the court registration of the Association. In that connection, the Association sent the requeusted specific details.

On 12 October 2001, representatives of the NGO came to explain that they had been granted access to the whole information specified in the four applications. Nevertheless, the information was insuffcient and overpriced (Order No. 10 of 10 January 2001 of the Minister of Finance on Eastablishing Rates for the Costs Incurred in the Granting of Access to Information under APIA by Type of Carrier).

Arguments of Parties:
Discrepancy with the substantive law (the requested information is public because it is related to the public life in Bulgaria and, if provided access to, it will enable applicants to form their own opinion on the activities of the City of Sofia for reducing the number of stray dogs) and the procedural law (Art. 15 of APA and Art. 38 of APIA).

Important Issue:

The Mayor of the City of Sofia is the competent body to make a decision on the application at least because the requeusted information is kept with the Mayor. The failure to issue a decision is a refusal in material breach of the substantive law (Arts. 2 and 3 of APIA) and the procedural law (Art. 15 of APA and Art. 38 of APIA).

Besides, it is important to note that APIA guarantees the general right of all individuals and legal entities of access to information. They are entitled to exercise this right without any need for proving their legal interest or producing evidence of their legitimacy (ad argumentum from Art. 25, para 1 of APIA).

The non-observance of the statutory time limits is another problem; the time limits for specifying details concerning the application under APIA are 30 days.

As far as implied refusals are concerned, there is already a ruling of a five-member panel of SAC on a case, in which the defence was represented by Alexander Kashamov, AIP lawyer (Case 7, CILA v.s MLSP), i.e. Ruling No. 8645 of 16 November 2001. The ruling gives a positive answer as to the issue whether an implied refusal to grant access to public information can exist.

English Version • Last Update: 25.01.2002• © 1999 Copyright by Interia & AIP