Country

Denmark

Denmark

Name of law : The Danish Access to Public Administrative Documents Act
First adopted : 1970

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 1
Scope 30 17
Requesting procedures 30 13
Exceptions 30 10
Appeals 30 23
Sanctions 8 0
Promotional measures 16 0
TOTAL 150 64

Right of Access

Indicator

Description

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1 The legal framework (including jurisprudence) recognises a fundamental right of access to information.Score 0 for no constitutional right to information, 1 point for a limited constitutional right, 2 points for full constitutional recognition of a public right of access to information.2 NO There is no constitutional provision protecting access to information. Link to the Constitutional Act of Denmark (pdf version, in English): http://www.eu-oplysningen.dk/upload/application/pdf/0172b719/Constitution%20of%20Denmark.pdf
2 The legal framework creates a specific presumption in favour of access to all information held by public authorities, subject only to limited exceptions.No=0, Partially=1, Yes=22 Partially Art. 4.1 "Subject to the Eexceptions in Sections 7-14 of this Act, any person may ask to see documents received or issued by an administrative authority in the course of its activity. An administrative authority may allow wider access to documents unless this is prohibited under the rules on secrecy, etc." Section 4.1 establishes a right of access to information, but only administrative information.
3 3.1 The legal framework contains a specific statement of principles calling for a broad interpretation of the RTI law
3.2 The legal framework emphasises the benefits of the right to information?
3.1(Y/N - max 1 point)
3.2 (Y/N - max 1 point)
2 NO Not mentioned.




Scope

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4 Everyone (including non-citizens and legal entities) has the right to file requests for information.Score 0 point if only residents/citizens; 1 point for all natural persons; 1 point for legal persons. 2 YES Section 4.1 "Subject to the exceptions in Sections 7-14 of this Act, any person may ask to see documents received or issued by an administrative authority in the course of its activity. […]" Section 4.1 establishes that any person may ask to see the documents.
5 The right of access applies to all material held by or on behalf of public authorities which is recorded in any format, regardless of who produced it.Score 1-3 points if limited definition of information information such as not "internal documents" or databases excluded, 4 points for all information with no exceptions.4 Partially Section 5.2 "The right of access to administrative documents shall not apply to registers or other systematic records processed electronically, with the exception of the records referred to in point 2 of paragraph 1." Section 7.1. "The right of access to files shall not apply to an authority's internal working documents.<...>" Section 10. "The right of access to files shall not apply to: 1) records of meetings of the Council of State, minutes of meetings of ministers and documents prepared by an authority for use at such meetings; 2) correspondence between ministries on legislation, including appropriation acts; 3) documents drawn up in connection with considering proposals for decisions to be taken by the European Community or to do with the interpretation of or compliance with EC rules; 4) documents exchanged in connection with one authority acting as a secretariat for another authority; 5) correspondence between authorities and outside experts for use in court proceedings or in deliberations on possible legal proceedings; 6) material gathered as a basis for compiling public statistics or scientific research." Section 5.2 excludes databases, section 7.1 excludes internal information and Section 10 involves the exceptions.
6 Requesters have a right to access both information and records/documents (i.e. a right both to ask for information and to apply for specific documents).Score 1 point for only documents, 1 point for information2 Partially Chapter 2: Right of access to administrative documents. Section 5.2 "The right of access to administrative documents shall not apply to registers or other systematic records processed electronically, <...>". The law only mentions the administrative documents.
7 The right of access applies to the executive branch with no bodies or classes of information excluded.This includes executive (cabinet) and adminsitration including all ministries, departments, local government, public schools, public health care bodies, the police, the armed forces, security services, and bodies owned or controlled by the above.Score 4 points for central government agencies covered: 1 for the head of state, 1 for ministries, 1 for other non-statutory agencies created by the ministries, 1 for state and local government if the government is unitary. If it´s a federalist system, 2 points for the non-statutory agencies. This can be determined by examining the length and thoroughness of the list, if such a schedule exists. Score 1 point for the archives. Add three points and deduct 1 for each exempted central agency (such as the armed forces, police, etc).8 Partially Chapter 1, Section 1; "This Act shall apply to all activity exercised by public administrative authorities, but see also Sections 2 and 3." Article 5, Section 2 : "The right of access to administrative documents shall not apply to registers or other systematic records processed electronically, <...>". All Public bodies are included in the Chapter 1, Section 1, which provides: "This Act shall apply to all activity exercised by the public administrative authorities, <...>". Archives are not included under the scope.
8 The right of access applies to the legislature, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all legislative branch at all levels of government4 Partially Chapter 1, Section 1. "This Act shall apply to all activity exercised by public administrative authorities, [...]." Art. 5.2 "The right of access to administrative documents shall not apply to registers or other systematic records processed electronically,[...]". All Public bodies are included in the Chapter 1, Section 1, which provides: "This Act shall apply to all activity exercised by the public administration". The law only mentions administrative documents.
9 The right of access applies to the judicial branch, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all judicial branch at all levels of government4 NO Chapter 1, Section 2.1: "This Act shall not apply to criminal justice cases. […]" Criminal Justice is not included under the scope of the act.
10 The right of access applies to State-owned enterprises (commercial entities that are owned or controlled by the State). Score 1 point if some, 2 points if all2 NO Article provides that this law shall apply to some electricity and gas companies and heating plants. No mention about state-owned companies.
11 The right of access applies to other public authorities, including constitutional, statutory and oversight bodies (such as an election commission or information commission/er). Score 1 point if some bodies, 2 points if all2 YES Chapter 1, Section 1. "This Act shall apply to all activity exercised by public administrative authorities, but see also Sections 2 and 3." All Public bodies are included in the Chapter 1, Section 1, which provides: "This Act shall apply to all activity exercised by the public administration".
12 The right of access applies to a) private bodies that perform a public function and b) private bodies that receive significant public funding. 1 point for public functions, 1 point for public funding 2 YES Chapter 1, Section 3. "After consulting with the Minister for Justice, the minister concerned may stipulate that this Act shall apply also to specified companies, institutions, associations etc. that cannot be classified as part of the public administration, provided that the operating expenses of such entities are mainly covered by central or local government funds or to the extent that they are empowered by law or provisions laid down pursuant thereto to make decisions on behalf of central or local governments. The minister concerned may also lay down more detailed rules on document filing etc."

Requesting Procedures

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13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES Section 4.1 " <...> any person may ask to see documents received or issued by an administrative authority in the course of its activity. An administrative authority may allow wider access to documents unless this is prohibited under the rules on secrecy, etc." The request for access can be made in English.
14 Requesters are only required to provide the details necessary for identifying and delivering the information (i.e. some form of address for delivery).Score Max 2 points and deduct if requesters are required to give any of the following: ID number, telephone number, residential address, etc.2 YES Chapter. 2, Section 9 " A request for access to information after article 7 and 8 has 1) to include the information necessary for the file or the documents of interest can be identified, and 2)give the theme that the file or the document concerns [...]" The requestor only needs to identify the information being sought or the documents that wants to gain access to. The authorities, in some cases could require the requester to state the name.
15 There are clear and relatively simple procedures for making requests. Requests may be submitted by any means of communication, with no requirement to use official forms or to state that the information is being requested under the access to information law.Max 2 points. Considerations include that there is no requirement to state that the request is under the RTI law, nor to use an official form, nor to identify the document being sought. 2 NO Not mentioned.
16 Public officials are required provide assistance to help requesters formulate their requests, or to contact and assist requesters where requests that have been made are vague, unduly broad or otherwise need clarification. Score 1 point for help in formulation and 1 point for clarification procedures2 NO Not mentioned.
17     Public officials are required to provide assistance to requesters who require it because of special needs, for example because they are illiterate or disabled.Score Yes=2 point, No=02 NO Not mentioned.
18 Requesters are provided with a receipt or acknowledgement upon lodging a request within a reasonable timeframe, which should not exceed 5 working daysScore 1 point for receipt, 1 point for max 5 working days2 NO Not mentioned.
19 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for situations where the authority to which a request is directed does not have the requested information. This includes an obligation to inform the requester that the information is not held and to refer the requester to another institution or to transfer the request where the public authority knows where the information is held.Score: 1 point for information not held, 1 for referrals or 2 for transfers2 NO Not mentioned.
20 Public authorities are required to comply with requesters’ preferences regarding how they access information, subject only to clear and limited overrides (e.g. to protect a record).Score: 2 points for Yes, only 1 point if some limitations2 NO Not mentioned.
21 Public authorities are required to respond to requests as soon as possible.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points 2 YES Chapter 4, Section 16, part 1; "The authority concerned shall decide as soon as possible whether to grant a request, and whether the person requesting access shall be given access to the documents on site, or sent a transcript or office copy."
22 There are clear and reasonable maximum timelines (20 working days or less) for responding to requests, regardless of the manner of satisfying the request (including through publication).Score: 1 point for timeframes of 20 working days (or 1 month, 30 days or 4 weeks). Score 2 points for 10 working days (or 15 days, or two weeks) or less.2 YES Chapter 4, Section 16 part 2; "If an application has not been granted or rejected within seven working days of its receipt by the authority concerned, the authority shall inform the applicant of the reasons for this and also of the date when a decision can be expected." The timeframe established to respond requests is 7 working days.
23 There are clear limits on timeline extensions (20 working days or less), including a requirement that requesters be notified and provided with the reasons for the extension.---2 YES Chapter 5, Section 16. " 1. The authority concerned shall decide as soon as possible whether to grant a request , and whether the person requesting access shall be given access to the documents on site, or sent a transcript or office copy. 2. If an application has not been granted or rejected within ten days of its receipt by the authority concerned, the authority shall inform the applicant of the reasons for this and also of the date when a decision can be expected."
24 It is free to file requests.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 YES It is not specifically mentioned in the law. However, it seems clear in the law that fees can only be charged for the actual copies of the documents/cases requested.
25 There are clear rules relating to access fees, which are set centrally, rather than being determined by individual public authorities. These include a requirement that fees be limited to the cost of reproducing and sending the information (so that inspection of documents and electronic copies are free) and a certain initial number of pages (at least 20) are provided for free. Score 1 point for fees being limited to reproduction and delivery costs and set centrally, 1 point for at least 20 pages free of charge or for fees being optional2 Partially Chapter 4, Section 16.3: "The Minister for Justice shall lay down rules on the fees payable for transcripts and office copies." Fees will be set centrally (minister of Justice) and will be for the copies, transcript or documents.
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 NO Not mentioned.
27 There are no limitations on or charges for reuse of information received from public bodies, except where a third party (which is not a public authority) holds a legally-protected copyright over the information. Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.


Exceptions

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28 The standards in the RTI Law trump restrictions on information disclosure (secrecy provisions) in other legislation to the extent of any conflict.Score 4 points for a resounding "yes" and 1/2/3 points if only for some classes of information or for some exceptions. If the state secrets law is not trumped by the RTI law max score is 2 points. 4 NO Chapter 3, Section 14: "The obligation to disclose information shall be limited by special provisions on the obligation to maintain secrecy laid down by law or pursuant to laws applicable to persons employed as public servants or elected to public office. It shall not apply with regard to the ordinary obligation to maintain secrecy under the Danish Criminal Code, the Danish Public Administration Act and civil service legislation."; Chapter 5, Section 17.4. "Provisions in other laws on access to documents held by public administrative authorities shall be retained, irrespective of whether they give more limited access to documents than that provided under this Act."
29 The exceptions to the right of access are consistent with international standards. Permissible exceptions are: national security; international relations; public health and safety; the prevention, investigation and prosecution of legal wrongs; privacy; legitimate commercial and other economic interests; management of the economy; fair administration of justice and legal advice privilege; conservation of the environment; and legitimate policy making and other operations of public authorities. It is also permissible to refer requesters to information which is already publicly available, for example online or in published form.Score 10 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which either (a) falls outside of this list and/or (b) is more broadly framed10 Partially Chapter 3. Exceptions to the right of access to administrative documents. Section 7, 8, 9,10, 11, 12, 13, 14. There are a few exceptions that falls outside the list: "protection of private or public interests where secrecy is required because of the special nature of the matter" and "matters relating to Faeroese or Greenlandic affairs" (2 points loss).
30 A harm test applies to all exceptions, so that it is only where disclosure poses a risk of actual harm to a protected interest that it may be refused. Score 4 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which is not subject to the harm test 4 NO No harm test listed.
31 There is a mandatory public interest override so that information must be disclosed where this is in the overall public interest, even if this may harm a protected interest. There are ‘hard’ overrides (which apply absolutely), for example for information about human rights, corruption or crimes against humanity.Consider whether the override is subject to overarching limitations, whether it applies to only some exceptions, and whether it is mandatory.4 NO Not mentioned in the law.
32 Information must be released as soon as an exception ceases to apply (for example, for after a contract tender process decision has been taken). The law contains a clause stating that exceptions to protect public interests do not apply to information which is over 20 years old.Score 1 point for each2 NO Chapter 1, Section 3.2. "The minister concerned may stipulate that, after a certain number of years, a right of access shall be granted in respect of specified documents that are not otherwise subject to the right of access to administrative documents under this Act." Article provides: "The Minister concerned may by Order provide that, after a specified term of years, right of access shall be granted in respect of specified documents that otherwise are not subject to the right of access to administration files as provided by this Act."
33 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for consulting with third parties who provided information which is the subject of a request on a confidential basis. Public authorities shall take into account any objections by third parties when considering requests for information, but third parties do not have veto power over the release of information.Score: 1 point for consultation, 1 further point if original time frames must be respected and the law allows for expedited appeals.2 NO Not mentioned.
34 There is a severability clause so that where only part of a record is covered by an exception the remainder must be disclosed. Score 1 point if yes but sometimes can be refused (eg: if deletions render meaningless the document) and 2 points if partial access must always be granted2 Partially Chapter 3, Section 12.2 "Where paragraph 1 applies only to part of a document, the party requesting access shall be allowed to see the remaining contents of the document." However it doesn´t apply if; 1) it will cause a surrender of it or the reasons referred to in § § 30-33, 2) it will involve the granting of a clearly misleading information, or 3) the remaining contents of the document does not have an understandable or coherent semantic content.
35 When refusing to provide access to information, public authorities must a) state the exact legal grounds and reason(s) for the refusal and b) inform the applicant of the relevant appeals procedures.Score Y/N: 1 point for a and 1 point for b2 Partially Chapter 4, Section 16, part 2 "If an application has not been granted or rejected within seven working days of its receipt by the authority concerned, the authority shall inform the applicant of the reasons for this and also of the date when a decision can be expected." The requester will be informed about the reasons of the refusal only.


Appeals

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36 The law offers an internal appeal which is simple, free of charge and completed within clear timelines (20 working days or less).Score 2 points if the internal appeal fulfills these criteria, 1 point if an appeal is offered that does not fulfill this criteria, 0 for no internal appeals.2 YES Chapter 4, article 15, Section 2. "Appeals against decisions in respect of requests for access to documents may be submitted to the authority designated as the appeals authority for the decision or for the general handling of the case to which the request relates." Administrative (internal) appeal. There is generally no time limit for such appeal.
37 Requesters have the right to lodge an (external) appeal with an independent administrative oversight body (e.g. an information commission or ombudsman). 1 for partial, 2 for yes2 YES Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 13. "Any person may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman against the authorities referred." Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
38 The member(s) of the oversight body are appointed in a manner that is protected against political interference and have security of tenure so they are protected against arbitrary dismissal (procedurally/substantively) once appointed.Score: 1 point for appointment procedure, 1 point for security of tenure2 YES Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 1, Section 1. "...the Folketing shall elect an Ombudsman." Article provides that The Ombudsman is not protected against arbitrary dismissal (1 point loss). This article does not mean that the Ombudsman is not independent. It is not chosen by the Government, but by the Parliament. Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
39 The oversight body reports to and has its budget approved by the parliament, or other effective mechanisms are in place to protect its financial independence.Score 1 point for reports to parliament, 1 point for budget approved by parliament2 YES Danish Ombudsman Act,Article 11 provides:"The Ombudsman shall submit an annual report on his work to the Folketing". Article 26 provides: "The expenditure incident to the office of Ombudsman shall be charged to the budget of the Folketing". Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
40 There are prohibitions on individuals with strong political connections from being appointed to this body and requirements of professional expertise.Score 1 point for not politically connected, 1 point for professional expertise2 YES Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 1, Section 2. "The Ombudsman shall not be a member of the Folketing, a municipal council or a regional council" and" The Ombudsman shall be a law graduate". Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
41 The independent oversight body has the necessary mandate and power to perform its functions, including to review classified documents and inspect the premises of public bodies.Score 1 point for reviewing classified documents, 1 point for inspection powers2 YES Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 18 "The Ombudsman may inspect any institution or company and any place of employment which fall within its jurisdiction" and 19 "Authorities, etc. which fall within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman shall be under an obligation to furnish the Ombudsman with such information and to produce such documents, etc. as he may demand". Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
43 In deciding an appeal, the independent oversight body has the power to order appropriate remedies for the requester, including the declassification of information. 1 for partial, 2 for fully2 Partially Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 22: "The Ombudsman may express criticism, make recommendations and other-wise state his views of a case". Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 NO It is not necessary for the complainant to exhaust the administrative appeal before appealing to the court.
45 Appeals to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are free of charge and do not require legal assistance.1 for free, 1 for no lawyer required. 2 YES Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 13. "Any person may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman against the authorities referred". Not mentioned by law, however, mentioned in the guide on the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman.
46 The grounds for appeal to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are broad (including not only refusals to provide information but also refusals to provide information in the form requested, administrative silence and other breach of timelines, charging excessive fees, etc.).Score 1 point for appealing refusals, additional points for appealing other violations.4 YES Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 13. "Any person may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman against the authorities referred." The grounds for appealing are broad. Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
47 Clear procedures, including timelines, are in place for dealing with external appeals (oversight/judicial).Score 1 point for clear procedures, 1 point for timelines. 2 Partially Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 13. "Any person deprived of his personal liberty shall be entitled to address written communications to the Ombudsman in a sealed envelope". No clear procedures listed (1 point loss). Link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/
48 In the appeal process (oversight/judicial/) the government bears the burden of demonstrating that it did not operate in breach of the rules.Score Y/N and award 2 points for yes. 2 NO Not mentioned.
49 The external appellate body has the power to impose appropriate structural measures on the public authority (e.g. to conduct more training or to engage in better record management)1 for partial, 2 for fully. 2 Partially Danish Ombudsman Act, Article 21: "The Ombudsman shall assess whether authorities or persons falling within his jurisdiction act in contravention of existing legislation or otherwise commit errors or derelictions in the discharge of their duties. <...>". The link to the Ombudsman Act: http://en.ombudsmanden.dk/loven/


Sanctions & Proteccions

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50 Sanctions may be imposed on those who wilfully act to undermine the right to information, including through the unauthorised destruction of information.Score 1 point for sanctions for underming right, 1 point for destruction of documents 2 NO Not mentioned.
51 There is a system for redressing the problem of public authorities which systematically fail to disclose information or underperform (either through imposing sanctions on them or requiring remedial actions of them).Score 1 point for either remedial action or sanctions, 2 points for both 2 NO Not mentioned.
52 The independent oversight body and its staff are granted legal immunity for acts undertaken in good faith in the exercise or performance of any power, duty or function under the RTI Law. Others are granted similar immunity for the good faith release of information pursuant to the RTI Law.Score 1 for oversight body, 1 for immunity for others2 NO Not mentioned.
53 There are legal protections against imposing sanctions on those who, in good faith, release information which discloses wrongdoing (i.e. whistleblowers).Score 2 for strong protections, 1 for moderate protections2 NO Not mentioned.


Promotional measures

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54 Public authorities are required to appoint dedicated officials (information officers) or units with a responsibility for ensuring that they comply with their information disclosure obligations.Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
55 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, is given overall responsibility for promoting the right to information. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
56 Public awareness-raising efforts (e.g. producing a guide for the public or introducing RTI awareness into schools) are required to be undertaken by law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
57 A system is in place whereby minimum standards regarding the management of records are set and applied. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
58 Public authorities are required to create and update lists or registers of the documents in their possession, and to make these public. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
59 Training programs for officials are required Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
60 Public authorities are required to report annually on the actions they have taken to implement their disclosure obligations. This includes statistics on requests received and how they were dealt with. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.
61 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, has an obligation to present a consolidated report to the legislature on implementation of the law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.