The Decision of the Court:
The Supreme Administrative Court found that the minutes, including records of conversations, of the Supervisory Council were documents prepared by the authority. When the conversations had been recorded in writing, scrutinized and signed in an appropriate manner, they were not deemed to be internal documents or documents prepared for the preparation of a matter.
The Court ruled in favour of the requester, rejecting the authorities reasoning based on sections 5(4) and 6(1)(6) regarding the fact that the documents had been prepared for internal use or preparation of a matter. The court found that the authority could not justify its refusal on these grounds and give information only on the permission of the Supervisory Council, and therefore asked the authority to reconsider its decision.
Finland – Ruled in favour of requester
||Sections 24(1)(2), 24(1)(7)-24(1)(10)
||KHO 8.8.2001 T 1761
||Minutes of meeting
||Ruled in favour of requester – public authority to reconsider original refusal
Background of case:
There were several exceptions invoked by the Ministry of Defense (Sections 24(1)(2), 24(1)(7)-24(1)(10)). In general, these exceptions relate to protection for international relations, security arrangements, public safety and military matters. The government had decided to prolong the period for secrecy of these documents in 1983 by 15 years. The Ministry also argued that even though the documents are fairly old, they contain information that is still pertinent with regard to defense.
As a second point, the Ministry of Defense argued that parts of the information can be deemed to be drafted for internal purposes according to Section 5(4) of the Act on Openness. The Ministry also argued that it is not possible to disclose parts of the documents without disclosing parts that come under the secrecy obligations. Moreover, the Ministry argued with reference to Section 16(1) of the Act on Openness that due to the big amount of documents (minutes from almost 100 meetings), partial disclosure is not possible without causing unreasonable inconvenience to the authority.