National Asset Management Agency v Commissioner for Environmental Information

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh
Judgment Date27 February 2013
Neutral Citation[2013] IEHC 86
Date27 February 2013

[2013] IEHC 86

THE HIGH COURT

[No. 357 MCA/2011]
National Asset Management Agency v Cmsr for Environmental Information
IN THE MATTER OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGULATIONS 2007 (S.I. No. 133/2007) AND IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE 13 OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGULATIONS, 2007

BETWEEN

NATIONAL ASSET MANAGEMENT AGENCY
APPELLANT

AND

COMMISSIONER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION
RESPONDENT

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 13

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 12(5)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 12

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 13(1)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3(1)(VI)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3(1)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3

OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY 2ED VOL VII

MURDOCH'S DICTIONARY OF IRISH LAW 4ED

DILWORTH v STAMP COMMISSIONER 1899 AC 99

INLAND REVENUE COMMISSIONERS v JOINER 1975 3 AER 105

ALLEN v GRENIER 1997 145 DLR 4ED 286

BLACKS LAW DICTIONARY

GOVERNORS & GUARDIANS OF THE HOSPITAL FOR THE RELIEF OF POOR LYING-IN WOMEN, DUBLIN v INFORMATION COMMISSIONER UNREP MCCARTHY 2.7.2009 2009/23/5750 2009 IEHC 315

EEC DIR 2003/4 ART 2(2)

VON COLSON v lAND NORDRHEIN-WESTFALEN 1984 ECR 1891

CONSTITUTION ART 29.4.7

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES ACT 1972 S3

MEAGHER v MIN FOR AGRICULTURE 1994 1 IR 329

T (MS) & T (J) (A MINOR) v MIN FOR JUSTICE UNREP COOKE 4.12.2009 2009/54/13750 2009 IEHC 529

EEC DIR 2003/4 PREAMBLE TO THE DIRECTIVE RECITAL 11

BENNION ON STATUTORY INTERPRETATION P1234

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3(1)(A)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3(1)(B)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3(1)(C)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3(1)(I)

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT) REGS SI 133/2007 ART 3(1)(VI)

USK & DISTRICT RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION LTD v BORD PLEANALA & ORS UNREP KELLY 14.3.2007 2007/59/12596 2007 IEHC 86

SHEEHAN v DISTRICT JUDGE REILLY 1993 2 IR 81

RSC O.84 r26(4)

P (F) v INFORMATION COMMISSIONER UNREP CLARK 13.7.2009 2009/46/11523 2009 IEHC 574

MCK (N) v INFORMATION COMMISSIONER 2006 1 IR 260

GLANCRE TEO v CAFFERKEY 2004 3 IR 401

RYE INVESTMENTS LTD v COMPETITION AUTHORITY UNREP COOKE 19.3.2009 2009/50/12557 2009 IEHC 140

COMPETITION ACT 2002 S24

E v SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE HOME DEPARTMENT 2004 QB 1044

VAVASOUR & EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY AGENCY v NORTHSIDE CENTRE FOR UNEMPLOYED LTD & ORS 1995 1 IR 450

GOVERNORS & GUARDIANS OF THE HOSPITAL FOR THE RELIEF OF POOR LYING-IN WOMEN, DUBLIN v INFORMATION COMMISSIONER UNREP SUPREME 19.7.2011 2012 1 ILRM 301 2011/23/6055 2011 IESC 26

EEC DIR 90/313

EEC DIR 2003/4 ART 3(5)

FLACHGLAS v FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY CASE C-204/09

MARLEASING SA v LA COMERCIAL INTERNACIONAL DE ALIMENTACION SA 1990 ECR I-4135 1993 BCC 421 1992 1 CMLR 305

DODD STATUTORY INTERPRETATION IN IRELAND TOTTEL 2003

O'DWYER v KEEGAN 1997 2 ILRM 401

INTERPRETATION ACT 2005 S5(2)

INSPECTOR OF TAXES v KIERNAN 1981 IR 117

CORK CO COUNCIL v WHILLOCK 1993 1 IR 231

LEWIS JUDICIAL REMEDIES IN PUBLIC LAW 4ED SWEET & MAXWELL 2009 PARA 13-067

MARA (INSPECTOR OF TAXES) v HUMMINGBIRD 1982 2 ILRM 42

HENRY DENNY & SONS (IRELAND) LTD v MIN FOR SOCIAL WELFARE 1998 1 IR 34

CASTLEISLAND CATTLE BREEDING SOCIETY LTD v MIN FOR SOCIAL & FAMILY AFFAIRS 2004 4 IR 150

SHEEDY v INFORMATION COMMISSIONER 2005 2 IR 272

DEELY v INFORMATION COMMISSIONER 2001 3 IR 439

KRUSE v INFORMATION COMMISSIONER UNREP SHEEHAN 23.6.2009 2009/32/7829 2009 IEHC 286

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1997 S42

O'DWYER v KEEGAN 1997 2 ILRM 401

DODD STATUTORY INTERPRETATION IN IRELAND TOTTEL 2008 P118

MCCANN LTD v O CULACHAIN (INSPECTOR OF TAXES) 1986 1 IR 196

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES ACT 1972 S3

CONSTITUTION ART 29

EEC DIR 90/313 PREAMBLE 11

EEC DIR 90/313 ART 2

PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Public authority

Appeal from decision that NAMA public authority - Statutory interpretation - Practice and procedure - Point of law - Statutory appeal - Definition of âÇÿincludes' - Literal interpretation - Natural and ordinary meaning - Dictionary definition - Whether word of limitation - Environmental information - Transposition of directives into national law - Ejusdem generis rule - Role of the court on appeal - Inherent jurisdiction - Implementation of directive - De novo ruling - Power to remit - Legislative intention - Presumption of faithful transposition - Whether NAMA public authority - Whether respondent erred in law in concluding that NAMA public authority - Whether plain and ordinary meaning of words clear - Whether legal ambiguity existed - Whether definition expanded - Whether High Court had jurisdiction to quash decision and remit matter - Whether High Court had jurisdiction to substitute own decision - Whether court limited in appellate jurisdiction to consideration of issue brought before it on appeal - Dilworth v Stamp Commissioner [1899] AC 99; Inland Revenue Commissioners v Joiner [1975] 3 All ER 105; Allen v Grenier (1997) 145 DLR (4th) 286; The Governors and Guardians of the Hospital for the Relief of Poor Lying-in Women v Information Commissioner [2009] IEHC 315, (Unrep, McCarthy J, 2/7/2009); Von Colson v Land Nordrhein Wesifalen [1984] ECR 1891; Meagher v Minister for Agriculture [1994] 1 IR 329; MST v Minister for Justice [2009] IEHC 529, (Unrep, Cooke J, 4/12/2009); Usk v An Brd Pleanála [2007] IEHC 86, [2007] 2 ILRM 378; FP v The Information Commissioner [2009] IEHC 574, (Unrep, Clark J, 13/7/2009); McK v Information Commissioner [2006] IESC 3, [2006] 1 IR 260; Glancre Teo v Cafferkey [2004] 3 IR 40; Rye Investments Ltd v Competition Authority [2009] IEHC 140, (Unrep, Cooke J, 19/3/2009); E v Secretary of State of the Home Department [2004] QB 1044; Vavasour v Northside Centre for the Unemployed [1995] 1 IR 450; The Governors and Guardians of the Hospital for the Relief of Poor Lying-in-Women, Dublin v Information Commissioner [2011] IESC 26, (Unrep, SC, 19/7/2011); Flachglas v Federal Republic of Germany (Case C-204/09) [2013] QB 212; Von Colson (Case C-14/83) [1984] ECR 1891, Marleasing (Case C-106/89) ECR [1990] I-4135; O'Dwyer v Keegan [1997] 2 ILRM 401; Inspector of Taxes v Kiernan [1981] IR 117; County Council of the County of Cork v Whillock [1993] 1 IR 231; Mara (Inspector of Taxes) v Hummingbird [1982] 2 ILRM 42; Henry Denny & Sons (Ireland) Limited v Minister for Social Welfare [1998] 1 IR 34; Castleisland Cattle Breeding Society Limited v Minister for Social and Family Affairs [2004] IESC 40, [2004] 4 IR 150; Sheedy v Information Commissioner [2005] IESC 35, [2005] 2 IR 272; Deely v Information Commissioner [2001] 3 IR 439; Kruse v Information Commissioner [2009] IEHC 286, (Unrep, Sheehan J, 23/6/2009); Minister for Agriculture and Food v Barry [2008] IEHC 216, [2009] 1 IR 215; Pawys v Pawys [1971] P 340; OH v OH [1990] 2 IR 558 and McCann Ltd v Ó Culachain (Inspector of Taxes) [1986] 1 IR 196 considered - European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 (SI 133/2007), arts 3, 6, 12 and 13 - European Communities Act 1972 (No 27), s 3 - Interpretation Act 2005 (No 23), s 5(2) - Constitution of Ireland 1937, Art 29.4.7 - Council Directive 2003/4/EC, arts 1 and 2(2) - Council Directive 90/313/EEC - Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, Aarhus, Denmark, 25/6/1998 - Appeal dismissed (2011/357MCA - Mac Eochaidh J - 27/2/2013) [2013] IEHC 86

National Asset Management Agency v Commissioner for Environmental Information

Facts: On the 3 rd February 2010, a request was made of the National Asset Management Agency (henceforth ‘NAMA’) for information pursuant to Article 6 of European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 (the "2007 Regulations"). This request was refused but a subsequent appeal to the respondent was upheld on the 13 th September 2011 on the basis that NAMA was obliged to comply as it was a public authority in accordance with Article 3(1)(vi) of the 2007 Regulations. NAMA denied this assessment and appealed to the High Court pursuant to Article 13(1) of the 2007 Regulations, seeking a court order for the matter to be either remitted to the respondent for a reassessment or a court order giving a substituted decision.

It was NAMA”s submission that Article 3(1)(vi) of the 2007 Regulations, which gives a definition of a public authority under three sub-paragraphs before listing seven potential public authorities which are preceded by the words ‘and includes’, was not applicable to its agency. NAMA argued that when the words ‘and includes’ were given their dictionary meaning, it limited the scope of the provisions so that in order to qualify as a public authority, a body had to come within the meaning of the first three sub-paragraphs of the list outlined in the article as a prerequisite. Since NAMA was not specifically mentioned in these sub-paragraphs, it argued it was clear that it could not be considered a public authority. NAMA pointed to the fact that Article 2(2) of Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information gave a definition of a public authority which did not include a list of possible public...

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