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Freedom of Information - Names of Employment Tribunal Respondents not available

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 Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary

Is the list of Respondents to employment tribunal claims held by HM Courts & Tribunals Service exempt from disclosure under a Freedom of Information Act request?

Yes, it is exempt and cannot be disclosed, held the Upper Tribunal, in Peninsula Business Services v Information Commissioner.

Until 2004, a register of Respondents in employment tribunal claims was publicly available. In 2004, the register was made confidential. However, HMCTS continued to maintain a list containing Respondents' details, which it extracted from ET3 forms and stored on its computer systems.

Peninsula sought to obtain the list by making a Freedom of Information Act request.  The case turned on whether or not the list was information exempt from disclosure under Section 32 (1) (a) and (c) (ii) of the Act.

"32 Court records, etc.

(1) Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it is held only by virtue of being contained in

(a) any document filed with, or otherwise placed in the custody of, a court for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter, ...

(c) any document created by... (ii) a member of the administrative staff of a court, for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter."

Whilst the information in Response Forms is exempt under 32 (1) (a), after extraction, that protection remained under 32 (1) (c) as the only source of the information was information that the Respondents were required to provide employment tribunals by the Rules of Procedure.  Accordingly Peninsula's attempt to obtain the data was unsuccessful.