The City of Trenčín Must Declassify the Legal Audit Report

The Supreme Court upheld a landmark ruling of the Regional Court in Trenčín in the case concerning a request of information addressed by Centre of environmental activities (CEA) to City of Trenčín who denied it. Since 2011 activists have been asking the City to provide them with the Legal audit report of the City. After various court proceedings courts not only met CEA action but also ordered the City of Trenčín to provide requested report to the claimants.

Even though the court met action of CEA twice, City of Trenčín after 4 years still has not published requested information. Since the beginning the City was purposefully circumventing and violating law in order to cover up results of legal audit, which were supposed to evaluate the state of the City as it was left by previous administration. Firstly the City was claiming that if the report was made public it would undermine protection of intellectual property under the Copyright Act. Later on City argued that request for information was not enough specified and they did not know what exactly the claimants asked for. The Regional Court in its second ruling in May 2014 rejected these arguments and met the CEA action. Moreover this time the Court ordered to the city to provide the information. The City appealed against latter decision before the Supreme Court and soon it began to claim that it did not have the report anymore. City argued that as they did not need the report anymore they sold it back to its authors in order to protect their intellectual property rights. The Supreme Court rejected the City´s arguments and confirmed thus ruling of the Regional Court according to which the City has an obligation to provide the report to the claimants.

“Since the beginning, when dealing with this request for information, the City of Trenčín has been acting illegally, while on the base of made-up reasons and pseudo arguments grossly violated constitutional rights of the public to information. Such a proceeding is inacceptable. Late disclosure of information, at the time when they already became out dated makes constitutional right to information become illusory and unenforceable,” states Eva Kováčechová, attorney collaborating with VIA IURIS and defending claimant-CEA in this dispute. “Nevertheless we believe that the City would finally comply with its legal and constitutional obligation and would provide claimant with entire Legal audit report.”

“We appreciate that Supreme Court definitely upheld our legal opinion and rejected all pseudo arguments of the city management. It is clear from the judgement that citizens have the right to see the legal audit which has been 4 years illegally classified by the Mayor of Trenčín,” states Richard Medal, director of the CEA.

According to Norbert Brázda, co-founder of the CEA: “Before public interests, Richard Rybníček gives apparently preference to other interests and that even at the cost of gross and purposeful violations of law and of the constitutional rights of citizens. We will therefore request that cost of court proceedings and other expenses associated with this case would not encumber the City´s budget but it would be paid personally by the Mayor.”