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Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) v. the Prime Minister of Poland

The Supreme Administrative Court, by its judgment of 17 June 2011, dismissed a cassation appeal brought by the representative of the Prime Minister of Poland against a 2010 judgment delivered by the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw. The case concerned the availability of certain public information, including the content of documents specifying tasks related to the so-called Anti-Corruption Shield project, among other things.

In April 2010, the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) requested the Prime Minister to make available certain public information, including documents related to the so-called Anti-Corruption Shield project. The request was rejected in decisions of April 2010 and May 2011, on the grounds that the documents in question constituted classified information. In its 16 December 2010 judgment, the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw recognized the SLLGO’s complaint and overturned the challenged decisions. The Prime Minister filed a cassation appeal against that judgment.

The Supreme Administrative Court held that the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw, when considering the SLLGO’s complaint against the Prime Minister’s decision to deny access to public information, rightly requested the Prime Minister to present the Court with minutes from the meeting of the Committee for Special and Intelligence Services, categorized as “classified” – the document to which SLLGO requested access. Because the Court was not presented with the minutes, the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw recognized the SLLGO’s complaint and overturned both of the Prime Minister’s decisions to deny access to the requested public information.

Considering the SLLGO’s complaint, the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw held that the Court “was obliged to confront [the challenged decisions] with the source material indicated by the administrative body, i.e. the minutes from the meeting of the Committee for Special and Intelligence Services. (…) since that [document] constituted the basis of the Prime Minister’s reasoning and a key element of the challenged decision, those provisions should by all means have been subjected to verification by the Court as part of the judicial review. (…) Due to the impossibility to take into account the evidence from the document in question, any potential resolution [in the case] (…) would make all possible findings of the Court purely arbitrary as they would be based on totally unverified facts of the case. And this, in consequence, would make the review conducted by the Court purely illusory. (…) The lack of the above-mentioned document makes it impossible for the Court to verify the decisions issued, which undermines their legality.”

The Supreme Administrative Court, in its judgment of 17 June 2011, fully accepted the findings and argumentation of the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw. The judgment is final and binding.


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