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IPSA’s Court of Appeal hearing costs
CAS-55073
Disclosure Date:17 Aug 2016
Categories: IPSA - FINANCIAL
Exemptions Applied: Section 21 Cost limit
Request

I write in relation to the Court of Appeal decision requiring IPSA to publish copies of actual receipts for MPs' business costs rather than a summary.

The appeal came after two earlier tribunal hearings.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, within the statutory 20 working day timeframe, I require the following information:-

1) The total costs of the entire litigation incurred by IPSA, including the costs of and incidental to all hearings (2 x tribunal and Court of Appeal).

2) Please provide a breakdown of the figure at question 1 to include profit costs paid to external law firms, expense of time for IPSA staff, VAT and disbursements.

3) In respect of disbursements at answer 3, please provide the amount for Barristers breaking down the figure for advocacy, advices, conferences and pleadings.

4) Please confirm whether an order for adverse costs was made in respect of the 3 hearings and, if so, the total amount ordered to be paid in respect of costs to the other party. If those costs were to be assessed, please confirm the total amount paid.

Response

The recent appeal, heard at the Court of Appeal (The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority v The Information Commissioner & Anor [2015]) related to a request made under the FOIA in December 2010 for copies of three receipts. In response to the ruling by the Court of Appeal, IPSA disclosed copies of the three receipts on 20 May 2015. You can view copies of these receipts on our website, via this link.

The total costs of IPSA’s appeals against the Information Commissioner’s ruling related to the publication of receipts are contained within IPSA’s annual report and accounts, which are published following the end of each financial year.

IPSA’s budget for the financial year is scrutinised and approved by the Speaker’s Committee for IPSA (SCIPSA) who gives parliamentary approval for IPSA’s annual spending plans through Supply Estimates. Each year’s Estimate contains various subheads, each relating to different areas of spending undertaken by IPSA. Subhead D (which was created in 2012-13) of each year’s Estimate relates to additional expenditure arising from the Freedom of Information Act, including appeal costs. You can view each year’s report for an annual breakdown of costs apportioned to this budget subhead.

Further, the Performance Report contained within IPSA’s annual report and accounts for 2015-16 addresses the appeal against the ICO’s decision and provides a total cost of the legal action supporting the appeal. You can find this information at paragraphs 23 to 25 of the report.

Copies of IPSA’s annual reports on our website, via this link.

The FOIA states that information that is accessible by other means is not subject to release. Therefore, as the information you have requested is available within our annual reports, it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA (information accessible to applicant by other means).

The remaining information that you have requested relating to spending breakdowns is not held by IPSA, but may be held by third parties who undertook work on behalf of IPSA. We estimate that the cost of locating, retrieving and extracting this information would take us over the appropriate cost limit of £450 (part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act). Consequently, IPSA is not obliged to respond to your request (see section 12(1), FOIA).