Employment tribunal respondents’ details to be published
The Information Commissioner (IC) has ordered the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) to disclose details of respondents to all employment tribunal claims lodged since October 2004. The order is the result of a decision of the Information Commissioner who found that, on balance, the public interest was best served by disclosing the information.
The Information Commissioner’s decision came about as a result of a dispute between DBERR and a complainant who had made a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for a list of the names and addresses of respondents to employment tribunal claims presented since October 2004. Before that date the public could access both respondents’ and claimants’ details via the Register of Employment Tribunal Applications, but this was abolished by the 2004 Tribunal Rules of Procedure.
The DBERR refused to disclose the information, relying on the exemption in S.36(2)(c) of the Act that applies where disclosure would ‘prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs’. It argued that releasing the information was not in the public interest as it could damage respondents’ reputations and reduce the chance of resolving disputes privately and informally.
The IC rejected those arguments concluding that details of most cases are already in the public domain and therefore the public interest in maintaining this exemption was ‘very weak’. The relevant information would therefore be disclosed.