CRT loses preliminary Information Tribunal case

It has come to our attention that Canal & River Trust (CRT) lost the preliminary stage of a case at the Information Tribunal back in February this year. On 16th February 2021 the Tribunal held that CRT was not entitled to refuse to provide information that relates to functions exercisable under the 2012 Order transferring most of the functions of British Waterways to CRT. This includes information about functions that CRT maintains it exercises due to its status as land owner, if these functions are also exercisable under the British Waterways (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012.

CRT maintained that it was acting as a private landowner exercising private power when it set terms and conditions relating to the pricing of permanent moorings such as those at Lisson Wide in London, which was reviewed and the mooring fees increased in 2018. It maintained that the information was exempt from disclosure because CRT had no statutory duty to provide long-term moorings.

David Wolfe made a Freedom of Information request for “Data and explanation in relation to the Lisson Wide mooring price review 2018”. CRT refused his request stating that it had not exercised any of the functions or powers it inherited from British Waterways in carrying out the price review, but carried it out in its role as landowner.

The Tribunal held that the information requested is within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), because it does ‘relate to functions exercisable under the 2012 order’, which is the gateway for CRT to be bound by the FOIA under Schedule 1 of the Act.

In a note on the What Do They Know web site, David Wolfe said:

“As I have repeatedly explained in the exchanges with CRT, the question of whether CRT has powers other than Section 43 [of the Transport Act 1962] as the basis for charging for moorings is legally irrelevant since the question under FOIA is whether Section 43 (which provides for charging) is “exercisable” by CRT and whether the information relates to it.

CRT is now arguing that the information requested is commercially confidential and therefore exempt from disclosure. The case will continue.

David Wolfe’s original Freedom of Information request is here

The Information Tribunal decision is here 2021-02-16_Wolfe-v-CRT_FTT_Preliminary