Original language


Date of text
Type of court
National - higher court
Court name
Supreme Court
Seat of court
Reference number
[2015] IESC 51
Administrative, Property, Permits, Constitutional, Environmental Impact Assessments, Access to Justice, Contract, Standing, Remedies, Civil
Free tags
Environment gen.
Legal questions
C. J. Denham; J. Murray; J. Hardiman; J. O’Donnell; J. Dunne

In this case, the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), institution created as part of the response of the Irish government to the financial crisis and in charge of acquiring and managing the assets of banks in financial difficulties, was required by the plaintiff to provide a breakdown of all the properties and assets under its control. The plaintiff grounded his demand under the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007. This regulation states that public authorities have to provide environmental information in their possession, when requested.

NAMA refused to grant access to that information on the bases that it cannot be considered to be a public authority and consequently is not held by the 2007 Regulation.

Following the refusal of the NAMA to deliver that information, the plaintiff initiated an appeal to the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information. The Office of the Commissioner had to consider whether or not the NAMA was performing administrative functions within the meaning of Article 3(1)(b) of the Regulation and ruled considering that with regards to EU law, to the Aahrus Convention (which was implemented in EU law through the Regulation) and in the legal practice. The Office held that the NAMA could be considered to be a public authority and consequently is concerned by the Regulation 2007. The NAMA appealed the decision of the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information in front of the High Court who upheld it.

Finally, the NAMA sought an appeal in front of the Supreme Court and argued that a too broad definition of public authority would capture too many other organisations such as national foundations and commissions. The Supreme Court considered that in between the definition of public authority had been made more explicit by the European Court of Justice in the case Fish Legal & Emily Shirley v. Information Commissioner, United Utilities Water Plc, Yorkshire Water and Services Ltd and Southern Water Services Ltd,  19th December 2013. As a result, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court and dismissed the appeal.