The right of access to public information – legal status in Poland
According to the Polish legal system the right of access to public information is one of the fundamental human rights therefore is regulated by some substantial legislative acts.
The most significant sources of law regarding the right of access to public information are as followed:
- Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights providing the right to freedom of expression and information,
- Article 61 of the Constitution of Poland giving the right of access to public information to every Polish citizen,
- The Polish Act on Access to Public Information from 2001 elaborating the matter of this right and specifying the procedure of accessing the public information.
According to these legislative acts, public information is every piece of information created not only by public authorities but also private sector entities and persons/institutions holding public functions or being in possession/managing of public property.
As a general rule the procedure of accessing the public information should be easily and equally accessible to everyone. Requested information should be given generally without any payment.
What does the procedure look like?
- First of all, it is necessary to check whether the sought information is published on Public Information Bulletin, which is… (Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej (https://www.bip.gov.pl/)
- If the wanted information is not published there, you should request a public office, which according to best of our knowledge should be in possession of it, for a provision of that information. The request can be made in any form (a letter, email etc.) – in your application form you need to indicate just two things: specify the exact public information you wish to receive and way in which you would like to get it e. scans of all contracts signed in 2017 by the municipal office in Warsaw by e-mail.
The requested I entity is obliged to provide the information within 14 days without undue delay.
In certain, justified, cases the legally defined time of 14 days might be delayed till 2 months provided that an applicant is notified and given a reason for such a delay.
- If, due to any technical problems, the requested entitycan not execute your inquiry in the indicated form, it is obliged to offera different way of accessing the information than stated in your application form. In such situation you can either agree the entity’s proposal or become reconciled with a public office’s right to discontinue the proceeding.
- The entity can refuse your request relying it’s decision on the right of privacy or trade secret – in such cases it is always possible to make an appeal.
- If the requested entity does not reply within 14 days, you can write a complaint to an adequate Voivodeship Administrative Court (Polish: Wojewodzki Sad Administracyjny)
- In case of a dismissal of the complaint by the court, there is still an opportunity to file a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court (Polish: Naczelny Sad Administracyjny), but it has to bemade either ny a solicitor or a legal counsel.
For more information contact our lawyers at email@example.com
Good luck with your actions and let’s hope the right of access to public information will always win!