In UK, private water companies must provide environmental information on request

20 April 2015
A recent ruling by the UK's Upper Tribunal has ruled that privatised utility companies in England and Wales are considered to be public authorities for the purpose of environmental information regulations. The judgement means that water companies must provide environmental information to the public upon request.

The private water companies have one month to reply to information requests and the requester is under no obligation to justify the reason for their request.

In the case Fish Legal v Information Commission and others, the Upper Tribunal had referred several questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union, which in 2013 ruled that companies carry functions of public administration if they have "special powers beyond those which result from the normal rules applicable in relations between persons governed by private law."

The Tribunal considered that water companies had those 'special powers' which include: compulsory purchase of land; the ability to make bylaws enforceable by criminal sanctions; the power to compel the laying of pipes; the ability to impose hosepipe bans, and others.

Read more on the National Law Review website

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