Summary: €75,000 Is “Cost-Price” for Access to the Company Register
|Request sent to||Chamber of Commerce|
|Outcome of request||Initial Request: Information Refused.
Administrative Appeal: No response – Administrative Silence
|Time taken to respond||The initial request was not received by the Chamber of Commerce. Once it was re-sent the response arrived on the same day (Deadline is 14 calendar days).|
|Reason for refusal
||Must pay for the information.
(They are charging cost-price for the information.)
The initial request was sent by Access Info Europe to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce on 28 August 2013. The Dutch Government Information (Public Access) Act requires the administration to answer within 14 calendar days.
We heard no response within the deadline so one month later, in late September, we called the Chamber of Commerce by telephone and asked them if they had received the access to information request. They responded that it never arrived and asked us to send it to them again.
Access Info resent the request on 27 September 2013 and the Dutch Chamber of Commerce responded on the same day. They replied that they had 2.5 million companies in the database and that the information for each of them could be bought for 0.03 cents per organisation. The entire data would therefore cost around 75 000 Euros.
On 3 October 2013, Access Info Europe appealed to the Chamber of Commerce to review this decision. We argued that according to the Dutch Government Information Act, access to data shall amount “to no more than cost” and that therefore 75,000€ was an unreasonable amount to pay. This is particularly so because access to information is a fundamental human right and because the database is created as part of the Register’s public functions, which are already paid for by taxpayers.
The response from the Chamber of Commerce on 4 October 2014 was that 0.03 cents per record was cost-price and that the full database would therefore cost €75,000.
The deadline for presenting administrative appeals in the Netherlands for access to Information requests is six weeks, so on 15 November 2013, Access Info sent an administrative appeal to the Chamber of Commerce’s Head of Sales, arguing that access to the database was not refused on the basis of any of the exceptions contained in the Law on Access to Public Information but that on the contrary, citizens’ right to exercise the right of access to information appeared to be contingent solely on their ability to pay 75,000€. Access Info argued that it was inappropriate to place a monetary constraint on access to a fundamental right such as the right of access to public information.
However, the Chamber of Commerce never responded to the appeal, meaning that this was a case of administrative silence.
February 2015: Access Info Europe and our partners at OCCRP are now working together with pro bono lawyers at Morrison & Foerster and the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice to analyze local laws and regulations affecting the availability of this information. We will use this analysis to determine what options are available to us for obtaining the requested information.
Accessing the Company Register in the Netherlands
|Information Available||Trade names and address, business activities or registration numbers of companies.
If available: telephone number, fax number, e-mail address, internet address, correspondence address.
|Provision for public access||Information is available for free on the website of the Dutch Trade Register. In order to access the Register, it is necessary to request a free access code. The search for information can be made using the trade name, address, or Chamber of Commerce number.If you pay for access, you can obtain the following information:
|Cost per record||€0.03 per record|
|Cost for whole database||€75,000 for full database|