Back in February 2010, we sent a request to NAMA seeking certain information under the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations. NAMA had just been established. We sent a similar request to Anglo Irish Bank. Both rejected our requests on the basis that they did not see themselves as public authorities under those regulations. We disagreed.
For 5 years the case has wound its way through the system, from a Commissioner ruling in September 2011 (which went in our favour), to High Court hearings in 2012 and two High Court judgments in early 2013 (the judge ruled against NAMA on both the substantive issue and on the issue of a stay, pending a Supreme Court appeal). We had to seek, and were granted, an expedited hearing after NAMA appealed both. There were almost two days of hearings in the Supreme Court in 2014, before five judges.
On June 23 they will issue their judgment.
The issue to be decided, among others, is what the term “and includes” means in the Regulations, and whether NAMA/Anglo, by virtue of being listed in 3(1) under the definition of public authority at parts vi) and vii), are in fact public authorities.
If the court rules as we believe it should, then NAMA becomes a public authority under AIE, and all bodies listed in parts i) to vii) of 3(1) of the Regulations become de facto public authorities (below), and we will finally have legal clarity.
(i) a Minister of the Government,
(ii) the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland,
(iii) a local authority for the purposes of the Local Government Act 2001 (No. 37 of 2001),
(iv) a harbour authority within the meaning of the Harbours Act 1946 (No. 9 of 1946),
(v) the Health Service Executive established under the Health Act 2004 (No. 42 of 2004),
(vi) a board or other body (but not including a company under the Companies Acts) established by or under statute,
(vii) a company under the Companies Acts, in which all the shares are held—
(I) by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government,
(II) by directors appointed by a Minister of the Government,
(III) by a board or other body within the meaning of paragraph (vi), or
(IV) by a company to which subparagraph (I) or (II) applies, having public administrative functions and responsibilities, and possessing environmental information;