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Lachezar Lisicov (Desant daily) v. the President of Bulgaria

Case number:
5159/2010, ACSC, Second division, 37th panel
Country:
Bulgaria
Date of decision:
11 November 2010
Court / Arbiter:
Administrative Court of Sofia, appealable to Supreme Administrative Court (but case was not appealed) ( First instance )

Relevant law :

Decision:

The Access to Public Information Act requires public authorities to issue explicit decisions when public information is requested, and to disclose the minutes of a private meeting between heads of state where the contents of the meeting were not confidential.


Keywords:
Head of state / Government (including president, monarch, cabinet)
Minutes (including transcripts and other records of meetings)
Mute refusal (including tacit refusal, failure to respond)
RTI law

Case details:

Facts

In April 2010, Lachezar Lisicov, a newspaper journalist, requested the minutes of the January 18, 2008 private meeting held between the President of Bulgaria and then-President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The President's administration did not disclose the information within the required time of 14 days established by the law. With the assistance of the Access to Information Program (AIP), Lisicov filed a complaint before the Administrative Court, alleging that the mute refusal was unlawful as the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) requires the public authority to issue an explicit decision on the request.

Decision

The Court ruled that the APIA is applicable as the requested information is public information under APIA Article 2(1) because it concerns the activities of the President in foreign policy. The Court stated that, based on the Regulation on the Implementation of State Protocol Act, private meetings are not excluded from the general obligation to make and keep records. Though the meeting was between only the two presidents and not attended by others, it was still an official meeting. The fact that the conversation was between the two heads of state was insufficient to consider it confidential. Further, the Court held that even if it were confidential, the President’s administration should have provided an explicit refusal to disclose the information.

The Court ordered the administration to disclose the requested information.

Resources:

Judgment of the Court.