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Freedom of Information Movement v. Clalit Health Services

Case number:
2032-08
Country:
Israel
Date of decision:
21 February 2011
Court / Arbiter:
Tel-Aviv District Court , sitting as Administrative Court ( Appellate )

Relevant law :

Decision:

Israel's largest health services provider, a public entity, must disclose a donation agreement made with the U.S. Schneider Family Foundation concerning a large contribution because the public has a right to know agreements made between public entities and private donors.


Keywords:
Contracts / Agreements (use of public funds, negotiations)
Privacy (harm to private interests, including life, health, safety)
RTI law

Case details:

Facts

The Freedom of Information Movement submitted a request to the Commissioner General of Health Services for disclosure of a donation agreement between Clalit Health Services, a public entity and Israel's largest health services provider, and the Schneider Family. A recently-published newspaper article had indicated that Lynn Schneider, chairperson of the Schneider Family Foundation, was involved in the firing of hospital staff and that the donation agreement reserved for the Foundation the right to participate in hospital management. After the Commissioner denied the request, the requester appealed.

Decision

The Court noted that withholding the requested donation agreement from publication would deny the public the right to know about the communications between public bodies and donor organizations, depriving people of an opportunity to comment on important issues. Only the right to access such information enables the public to affirm or reject the activities of the public bodies meant to serve them.

Though the respondent argued that the Freedom of Information Act did not apply to the agreement because the agreement was signed before the FOI Act was enacted, the court ruled that such an interpretation would deprive the FOI law of its content.

Further, the Court noted that when a private entity engages with a public authority, it should assume that details of any agreement, which are not personal, would be available to the public for scrutiny. Finally, the Court addressed the concern that its ruling would stifle charitable donations by ruling that private information, such as amounts and schedules of contributions, could be removed from the information disclosed.

Resources:

Judgment of the Court (English and Hebrew).