Summary: Company Register Authority Appeals Pro-Transparency Ruling from Information Commissioner in Court
|Request sent to||
Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Public Legal Records and Related Services (AJPES) (Click here)
|Outcome of request||
Request rejected by AJPES.
We appealed to the Information Commissioner, who ruled that the database should be published for free. However, the AJPES has appealed this ruling before the Court. The case has been pending before the Administrative court since February 2014.
|Time taken to respond||2 working days (Deadline is 20 working days).|
|Reason for refusal||Incomplete request.|
The initial request for a full copy of the company register database was sent on 23 July 2013 to the Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Public Legal Records and Related Services (AJPES) by Vasja Veger, a Slovenian journalist working in cooperation with Access Info Europe.
Under the Slovenian Access to Public Information Act, the AJPES is legally bound to respond to requests within 20 working days. As soon as the request was sent, an AJPES representative immediately called to say that the request was too broad and that we needed to specify what we were looking for. We were also informed that we should request the information under the Decree on the provision and re-use of public information.
On 15 October 2013 a new request was sent, which specified that Vasja was requesting the information on behalf of Access Info Europe and that the information provided would not be used for commercial purposes because it was part of a monitoring project to test the accessibility in practice of company register databases across Europe.
A response was received two days later, on 17 October, which stated that the request was incomplete because we had not provided information about the legal status of Access Info Europe, and it asked us to explain in more detail why we needed the entire contents of the register. The AJPES register also requested that Vasja present paperwork demonstrating that he was authorised to act as Access Info’s legal representative.
On 24 October 2013, Vasja responded stating that he was the one presenting the request as part of a project which sought to inform the public of the levels of accessibility of different company registers in Europe, and that he was working in cooperation, but not on behalf on, with Access Info.
On 29 October 2013, the AJPES responded that we needed to provide them with a postal address in order to deliver a decision on the request for a copy of the database. Vasja provided them with it on the same day.
Eventually, on 14 November 2013, the AJPES denied the request, again stating that despite the previous two clarifications, it was incomplete and did not fulfil the requirements set by the re-use of public sector information Decree and the Access to Public Information Act.
We appealed before the Slovenian Information Commissioner on 29 November 2013. On 8 January 2014, the Commissioner inspected the files and on 27 January 2014, the Information Commissioner ruled that the AJPES was wrong to seek further information about the purposes of our request and that since we had made clear that the database would be used for non-commercial purposes, it should be provided to us for free.
However, the Information Commissioner emphasised that personal data in the database could only be re-used in conformity with the data privacy law and that it could not be presented in a manner which would permit for cross-checking of an individual’s status in a company, so that if Access Info were to re-use the data, it should be presented in a way that would only allow for access to names of individuals file by file. This restriction actually arises from the Slovenian Court Register Act (Article 50), not from the Personal Data Protection Act or the Act on re-use of Public Sector Information Act.
The Information Commissioner ruled that the AJPES had 31 days in which to provide us with access to the complete database of companies registered in Slovenia, and also to provide us with access to a document entitled “Structures of data in the Business Register of Slovenia for users”, without which it would be very difficult to properly comprehend the data in the registry. To read the Information Commissioner ruling (in Slovenian) click here.
However, instead of complying with the Information Commissioner’s decision, the AJPES appealed against the Slovenian Information Commissioner, by presenting a case before the Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia. Access Info is still awaiting the ruling from the Court, which has been examining the issue since Feburary 2014. We have been informed by legal experts that this process can take a couple of years.
In March 2015, the Court Register of Legal Entities Act (CRLEA) was amended and the article that prevented presentation of the database in a way that would allow for searching by name was removed (Article 50). This means that the restriction placed by the Information Commissioner in her decision on our case would no longer be in force. In theory then, it is now be possible to access information on whether a particular person is the founder (shareholder) or a member of the management board or the supervisory board of a company. However, we are still awaiting the final outcome of the register’s appeal to the Administrative Court to ensure this is the case.
Accessing the Slovenian Company Register
|Information available||Basic information such as entity status, business register entry date, registration number, tax number, full company name, short company name, registered office, business address, legal organisational form, share capital, number of shares, type of supervisory authority.
Information about partners and equity: Number of partners, personal name, postal address, type of responsibility, date of entry. Interest number, capital contribution, share as a percentage or fraction, shareholders.
Information about authorised representatives: Number of representatives, type of representatives, personal name, postal address, date of appointment, manner of representation, restrictions.Information about the supervisory members and information about decisions passed at the general meeting: Date of the general meeting, and contents of the resolutions.Information about amendments to the memorandum or statute.
|Provision for public access||You can search the register for free but in order to do so you need to subscribe first. The ePRS application only allows the user to access data on individual entries within the Slovenian Business Register.To download the entire register, you must pay for it. You also need to pay for certified copies of the data in the Company Register.|
|Cost per record||Company profile: 4.06€ (free access record-per-record, but if you want a certified copy you need to pay for it)
Company appointments: 5.49 €
Extract Trade Register: 8.94 €
Annual account: 12.60 €
Credit rating report: 48.29€
|Cost of whole database||122,000€ per year for the complete database
14,000€ for just the business register
However, after Access Info Europe appealed, the Information Commissioner ruled that bulk access should be provided to the database for free. The register authorities have since appealed that decision, and we are still awaiting a ruling on the case from the Administrative Court.