Here is a copy of the judgment in NAMA vs Commissioner for Environmental Information, given this morning.
“We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court today finding that NAMA is a public authority subject to the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007/2011. We are thankful that the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information agreed with our interpretation of the law when it made its initial decision in 2011, and subsequently defended that decision through the courts.
We regret that NAMA did not handle the issue better at the outset -as the ruling itself noted – and that it has taken nearly 2,000 days for what was a preliminary matter to be decided, involving significant expenditure of public money. However the public now has greater clarity on the applicability of the Regulations, and the public’s right to know has been broadly vindicated by the Supreme Court. We look forward to NAMA fully implementing its obligations under the AIE Regulations 2007/2011.”
The key paragraph:
If the law stood as it was at the time of the High Court’s decision I would have considered it necessary to refer a question to the ECJ as to whether a body such as NAMA was a public body for the purpose of the exercised public administrative functions. The definition section of the Directive is unclear, and it is also necessary to consider the Aarhus Convention. However the decision in Fish Legal provides an authoritative interpretation of the Directive, and moreover does so in the context of a common law system. Applying that test it is clear that NAMA is indeed a public authority exercising public administrative functions. Although like the water companies in Fish Legal, it is obliged to act commercially, it is undoubtedly vested with special powers well beyond those which result from the normal rules applicable in relation between persons governed by private law. If anything, the case is clearer here. The water companies in Fish Legal were companies established in private law whereas NAMA is established pursuant to a statute which confers upon it substantial powers of compulsory acquisition, of enforcement, to apply to the High Court to appoint a receiver and to set aside dispositions. The Act also restricts or excludes certain remedies against NAMA. The establishment and operation of NAMA is a significant part of the executive and legislative response to an unprecedented financial crisis. The scope and scale of the body created is exceptional. Indeed if it were not so it would not be in a position to carry out the important public functions assigned to it in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Accordingly, for the reasons set out above, I would dismiss the appeal.