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Historical database agreement

Request for information – FOI13391

Thank you for your e-mail of 10 July 2013, requesting the following information from Ordnance Survey under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000:

'We are writing to request a copy of the Joint Venture agreement between Ordnance Survey and Landmark Information Group'.

Following our contacting you for clarification, you have confirmed that it is the Historical Database Agreement which you believe is a Joint Venture agreement between Landmark Information Group and Ordnance Survey that you are requesting in this instance.

As previously advised, in exceptional circumstances it may be necessary for Ordnance Survey to extend our response beyond the twenty working days deadline. This has been the case in this instance, as there had been a complex Public Interest test to consider against the qualified exemption we have engaged.

I re-confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold the information you have requested. The document is attached to this e-mail (xxxxxx – REDACTED DOCUMENT – FOI13391) but I must advise you that some of the information has been redacted in accordance with an applicable exemption as detailed within the Act.

Section 43 – commercial interests
We have redacted the following information from this agreement: the liability value in clause 14.5, some information in Schedule 2 part 1, the annexes to both Schedule 2 part 2 and Schedule 2 part 3 and Schedule 3 and 4 in full, as we consider Section 43 (2) 'Commercial Interests' applies to this information.

In order to consider whether the disclosure of information would prejudice a commercial interest we have, in accordance with the Secretary of States Code of Practice, consulted with any party likely to be affected by the disclosure – in this instance Landmark Information Group.

Following, we have redacted the liability value from clause 14.5 because this is a negotiated point specific to this agreement. Whilst it is often appropriate, where there is public interest, for the total contract value to be made publicly available, it is accepted there are financial elements of a contract which are considered commercially sensitive to the organisations who have negotiated them, and as such we will not be releasing this information to you.

We have also redacted some information from Schedule 2 part 1, the Annexes of Schedule 2 part 2 and Schedule 2 part 3 and Schedule 3 and 4 in full. This is because this information relates to costs and royalties.

Both Landmark Information Group and Ordnance Survey (despite being a Government trading fund) operate in narrow, commercially competitive environments. We have considered the adverse impact the release of the cost/royalty information would have, and we have concluded that the release of this information will provide competitors with an unfair business advantage, a process in which there is little or no public interest.

We believe the breakdown of cost and royalty information provides detailed knowledge of a business model in relation to a product or service. It has taken considerable time, skill, knowledge and input from Ordnance Survey and the third party to create the service or product and once again there would be little or no public interest in an organisation making such arrangements available to their own commercial detriment.

The use of Section 43 is subject to a public interest test. In this context, we recognise that there is a general public interest in the disclosure of information as greater transparency makes Government departments more accountable.

Against this there is a public interest in ensuring that the commercial interests of organisation (including third parties) are not damaged or undermined by disclosure of information which is not common knowledge and which could adversely impact on future commercial viability. Additionally, public interest extends to ensuring organisations are able to operate fairly and with integrity, along-side other organisations in the commercial environment, and that these departments and organisations are not undermined by the disclosure of information which could adversely impact.

In this case, we consider that the public interest in favour of disclosing such information is outweighed by the necessity to protect the commercial interests of Ordnance Survey and of third parties. Consequently, we are satisfied that there is greater public interest in withholding the redacted information in this instance.

Section 40 – personal information
The information we have redacted under Section 25 of the agreement has been withheld under the Personal Information exemption.

Section 40 (2) (a) together with section 40 (3) (a) (i) of the FOIA apply to information where disclosure would contravene any of the data protection principles under the Data Protection Act 1998. This exempts information constituting the personal data of living individuals, the release of which would be in breach of the Data Protection Principles.

In applying this exemption, we have considered whether disclosure of the personal data in question would be 'fair'. We have given particular consideration to the likely expectations of the data subject regarding the disclosure of their information.

We have concluded that disclosure of the personal information third party personal and of Ordnance Survey individuals who are referenced, but are not Senior Civil Servants (SCS), to be unfair and that there is no expectation for them to be publicly referenced in this manner.

The use of Section 40 (2) constitutes an absolute exemption and no public interest test is required in respect of this.

Internal review
Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:

FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

E-mail: foi@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review - normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

E-mail: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.

Thank you for your enquiry.

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