Key facts of the case:
The applicant requested information from the State Revenue Service (hereinafter – SRS). The information was provided partly. According to the Section 22 (2) 4) of the Law on Taxies and Duties SRS may provide information on the taxpayer without the consent of the latter to pre-trial investigation authorities as well as sworn bailiffs, courts, public prosecutor’s office and other law enforcement agencies. According to the above mentioned law and the Section 5 (1) of the Freedom of Information Law the SRS has no right to give restricted access information without the consent of the person.
The applicant submitted an application to the court to impose an obligation on the SRS to provide information.
The court pointed that the right to access to documents is a well established principle of EU law. The right of access to documents of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union is established in the Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and at the Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The right of access to information is subject to certain limitations justified on grounds of public or private interest. A decision refusing access is valid only if it is founded on one of the exceptions provided for by Article 4 of Regulation No 1049/2001. According to settled case-law, those exceptions must be construed and applied restrictively so as not to defeat the general principle enshrined in that regulation.
The examination required for the purpose of processing a request for access to documents must be specific in nature. First of all, the mere fact that a document concerns an interest protected by an exception is not of itself sufficient to justify the application of that exception. Such application may, in principle, be justified only if the institution has previously assessed, first, whether access to the document would specifically and actually undermine the protected interest and, secondly, in the circumstances referred to in Article 4(2) and (3) of Regulation No 1049/2001, whether there is any overriding public interest in its disclosure. Furthermore, the risk of a protected interest being undermined must be reasonably foreseeable and not purely hypothetical. Consequently, the examination which the institution must carry out in order to apply an exception must be specific and be evident from the statement of reasons for the decision.
The court admitted that the applicant has a legal and justified interest to receive information from SRS, and the rights or legal interests of the taxpayers of which the information is required, can not be seriously affected.
The court does not see a justified interest for receiving information from SRS about a time period after 22 May 2015, because the management of the debtor is administered by an administrator and the administrator hasn’t pointed that there is a doubt of applicant’s transactions and supporting documents.
Outcome of the case:
The court decided to satisfy the application in part and oblige the SRS to give part of information and to dismiss the application in the remaining part.
Also Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents establish the right of access to documents. The purpose of this Regulation, as it arises from 4th clause of preamble and Article 1, is to ensure to the society the widest possible access to documents. According to the Clause 10 in order to bring about greater openness in the work of the institutions, access to documents should be granted not only to documents drawn up by the institutions, but also to documents received by them. At the same time the right to access to documents is subjected to certain limits justified on grounds of public or private interest. However, exceptions to these rights must be interpreted and applied restrictively, so it would not make any obstacles for application of general principle (see the paragraph 84 of previous mentioned judgment).
Arī Eiropas Savienības Pamattiesību hartas 42.pantā un Eiropas Parlamenta un Padomes 2001.gada 30.maija Regulā (EK) Nr.1049/2001 par publisku piekļuvi Eiropas Parlamenta, Padomes un Komisijas dokumentiem ir noteiktas tiesības piekļūt dokumentiem. Regulas mērķis, kā izriet no preambulas ceturtā apsvēruma un tās 1.panta, ir piešķirt sabiedrībai tiesības uz iespējami plašāku piekļuvi iestāžu dokumentiem. Atbilstoši regulas desmitajam apsvērumam, lai padarītu iestāžu darbu atklātāku, jānodrošina ne tikai iestāžu sagatavoto dokumentu, bet arī saņemto dokumentu pieejamība.Vienlaicīgi tiesības piekļūt informācijai ir pakļautas zināmiem ierobežojumiem, kas pamatoti ar sabiedrības vai privāto interešu apsvērumiem. Tomēr izņēmumi no šīm tiesībām ir interpretējami un piemērojami sašaurināti, lai netiktu radīti šķēršļi vispārējā principa piemērošanai (sk. iepriekš minētā sprieduma 84.punktu).