Summary: The Access to Information Law defers to other legislation
|Request sent to||Ministry of Justice|
|Outcome of request||Information refused|
|Time taken to respond||6 working days (deadline is 1 month)|
|Reason for refusal||FOI exceptions applied to registers.
Information not held.
The initial request was sent in Spanish to the Central Mercantile Register on 4 November 2013. At the time, Spain had still not adopted an access to information law, which meant that there was no legal obligation for the register to respond, nor were there specific deadlines for such a response.
However, only two days later, Access Info received a reply asking us to clarify the request, and to specify exactly which type of information we wanted. We responded immediately, clarifying that we were seeking access to a full copy of the company register database.
On 25 November 2013, the Central Mercantile Register sent us, in attachment, a Microsoft Access file, but the file only weight 1 kilobyte and it was impossible to open. We responded on the same day asking them to re-attach the file.
On 26 November 2013, the file was re-sent, but again it was impossible to open. On 3 December 2013, Access Info wrote back to the Central Mercantile Register, explaining that it was impossible to open the file and asking if it would be possible to send us the data on a USB stick.
No response was ever received to this follow-up request. Since there was no access to information law in place at the time, Access Info had no legal basis on which to appeal.
On 10 December 2014, the Spanish transparency law finally came into force, so on 5 June 2015, Access Info decided to try again and to send a new request to the Ministry of Justice. You can follow this request process via the following link: http://www.tuderechoasaber.es/es/request/informacin_contenida_en_el_regis.
On 16 June 2015 we received a response which was sent to us through the Spanish Transparency Portal (http://transparencia.gob.es/) instead of via Tuderechoasaber.es, which was the platform we had originally used.
To access the Ministry of Justice’s answer through the Transparency Portal we had to log in to the portal, for which a specific personal code is required. Spain’s Transparency Portal can only be accessed through a system called ‘Cl@ve’ which enables you to use online public services via a unique personal identification key. In order to get this digital ID code, you have to ask for it and it then arrives by post.
On 17 June 2015, Access Info responded to the Ministry of Justice asking them to please resend their answer via Tuderechoasaber.es instead of through the Transparency Portal, as we had no ‘Cl@ve’ to access their answer and we feared it would take too long for it to arrive by post.
On 2 July 2015, Access Info received the Ministry of Justice’s response (read here) denying us access to the Company Register’s information. The Ministry of Justice stated that the Spanish transparency law specifically mentions that when it comes to information that is covered by other laws, those other laws should apply instead. The Ministry of Justice also stated that we had to formulate the request in line with the re-use of public sector information law, and then proceeded to list a series of other laws which it considered to override the transparency law. These included, inter-alia, laws that restricted the “manipulation of the information” and the “scraping” of the register, and laws that required that information be provided only record-per-record, upon request, using the name or fiscal code of the company in question.
The Ministry of Justice also stated that they could not provide us with the information for data protection reasons.
The Ministry of Justice cited an article from the company register law that stated that requests for mass disclosure of data should be granted if its publication would serve the public interest, so on 6 July 2015, we decided to ask again, arguing that our request was in the public interest.
On 29 July 2015 we received a new response from the Ministry of Justice (read here) reiterating the previous denial of access to the documents. The institution (the Ministry of Justice’s Directorate General for Registries and Notaries) also claimed in this response they didn’t hold the information. In addition, they failed to refer us to any other body that would hold the database.
Accessing the Spanish Company Register
|Information available (for free)||You cannot access any information online for free.|
|Provision for public access||Access to the information contained in the Mercantile Register is only possible upon payment. To access the database, you can either register and create a permanent access account, or you can generate a one-time access account.
Once you have created your access account, and made the corresponding payment, you are provided with a username and password.
With this, you can search through the company information on the register’s website (http://www.rmc.es/Home.aspx). You can search using the company name or the registration number. Blank searches are not possible.
Once the search results come up, you have to select which pieces of information you want to access about a certain company, and then pay the corresponding fee (see below).
|Cost per record||There seem to be different prices depending on whether you are the end-user of the information or whether you plan to re-use or re-sell the data.For end-users, the following prices exclude VAT:
|Cost for whole database||Data not available.|
Spain´s Right to Information (RTI) Rating (Click here)
Spain´s Ley de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información Pública y Buen Gobierno (Click here)
Spain’s company register (Click here)