Section 27 – Third Party Intervention
As soon as a business (referred to as ‘third parties’ in access to information legislation) exchanges information with a government institution subject to the
Access to Information Act, this information is contained in government records and is accessible to the general public. Pursuant to section 20 of the
Access to Information Act some of the information submitted by third parties, such as trade secrets, confidential, financial, commercial or scientific or technical information which might result in material financial loss or prejudice the competitive position
may be exempted from disclosure.
However, occasionally, the head of an institution, for instance the Department of Public Works and Government Services or the Department of National Defence, concludes that certain information in records received from a third party should NOT be exempted for disclosure. Under such a scenario, within 30 days of having received the request, the institution is required to give notice to the third party of its intention to disclose the requested information to a requestor to allow the said party an opportunity to make representations about the nature and magnitude of the inquiry it is likely to suffer as a result of the intended disclosure and, to demonstrate that such injury outweighs the public interest. Representations must be made within 20 days of receipt of the section 27 order.
Under such circumstances, the third party has the burden to establish why the requested information must not be disclosed. Case law has established also that when responding to a section 27 argument, third parties should address certain elements.