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Freedom of Information in France: Law and Practice

Marique, Yseult and Slautsky, Emmanuel (2018) 'Freedom of Information in France: Law and Practice.' In: Dragos, Dacian and Kovac, Polonca and Marseille, Albert T, (eds.) The Laws of Transparency in Action. Governance and Public Management . Palgrave, 73 - 118. ISBN 978-3-319-76459-7

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Abstract

In France, a legislation on freedom of information (FOI) granted every person the right to obtain communication of documents held by an administration within the framework of its public service mission, regardless of their form or medium, in 1978. This marked a stark break away from a tradition of administrative secrecy and sought to improve the relations between the French State and its citizens. The French FOI act aims to find a balance between the right to access public information (a democratic requirement and a prerequisite for the exercise of fundamental rights), and other competing interests (privacy, competition, and public order and security). This equilibrium is constantly reshaped under the influence of technological developments and an increasing commodification of public information. Changes and adaptation occur through legislative changes (such as the 2016 statute on ‘Republique numérique’) and through practice, for example, through the combined interaction of an independent authority—the Commission d’accès aux documents administratifs (CADA)—and the French administrative judge, the Council of State. This chapter seeks to provide an assessment of how the law works in practice, thanks to interviews with senior practitioners in this matter such as legislators, judges, and information commissioners and the analysis of empirical data such as CADA’s annual reports, opinions, and advice. Three main issues emerge from this assessment: firstly, administrative inertia is still very strong nearly 40 years after the first FOIA was adopted; secondly, the exceptions to the principle of access to administrative documents have grown over time, reducing the actual scope of FOI; thirdly, fragmentation of the special regimes may lead to more confusion than transparency.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2018 12:05
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2018 12:05
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22791

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