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COPFS

Request for correspondence re Bill of Suspension & fees/costs/legal expenses paid to SCTS/Clyde & Co as a result of the hearing (R016757) – September 2017

Thank you for your email of 18 August 2017 in which you requested the following under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):

"I would like to make a Freedom of Information request for information contained in any correspondence between COPFS, the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service and Police Scotland, and Clyde & Co in relation to this case https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/judgment?id=e78420a7-8980-69d2-b500-ff0000d74aa7

BILL OF SUSPENSION by CLYDE AND CO (SCOTLAND) LLP Complainers; against THE PROCURATOR FISCAL, EDINBURGH Respondent: Complainers: Smith QC; Clyde & Co Respondent: No appearance 22 July 2016

and any information contained in fees, costs, legal expenses or other funds (figures, totals) paid by COPFS to the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service and Clyde & Co or their client because of this case or matters relating to it."

Firstly I should clarify that a Bill of Suspension hearing emanates from criminal proceedings and any correspondence held between COPFS, the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS), Police Scotland and Clyde & Co in relation to this hearing is exempt. By way of explanation, this correspondence is held by a Scottish Public Authority, namely the Procurator Fiscal, for the purposes of an investigation which the Procurator Fiscal had a duty to conduct to ascertain whether a person should be prosecuted for an offence and it is therefore exempt from release in terms of Section 34(1)(a)(i) of FOISA.

This is not an absolute exemption and I have therefore considered whether the public interest favours disclosure of the information, notwithstanding the exemption. Whilst I appreciate that there is a great deal of information in relation to the hearing publically accessible on the SCTS web-site, I consider that there is a strong public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of correspondence in connection with allegations of criminality and consequently the Bill of Suspension hearing. The confidentiality of such information ensures that the agencies involved in the criminal justice process can report to the Procurator Fiscal in a manner which is free and frank and for this reason I consider that the public interest favours upholding the exemption.

You have also asked for information about fees, costs, legal expenses or other funds paid by COPFS to SCTS and Clyde & Co. I can advise that COPFS paid a total of £10,021.38 in fees, and other legal costs to Clyde & Co after the hearing.