July 4th, 2024 by James Goudie KC

In SURREY SEARCHES LTD v NORTHUMBRIAN WATER LTD ( ( 2024 ) EWHC 1643 ( Ch ) the Court was required to determine the interpretation and application of the ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS 2004 ( the EIR ) in water and drainage Search Reports in conveyancing transactions. Personal search providers asserted that charges levied by water and sewage companies for property Search Reports were unlawful because they alleged the information should have been provided free, or for a reasonable charge, under the EIR. The Court however concluded that not all the information responsive to the questions was “ environmental information “ within the EIR.

The EIR fell to be interpreted in accordance with the language and objectives of Directive 2003/4, and the Directive, in turn with those of the AARHUS CONVENTION 2001.

The case also concerned ( 1 ) whether environmental information was “ held “ , (2)  whether information was “ personal data “ that did not have to be disclosed without a confidentiality restriction, and ( 3 ) the charging regime.

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