Disclosure of public documents and confidentiality
What is an official document?
A document is official if it is located at/stored with a public authority, and is to be considered as received or drawn up by that authority. ‘Document’ refers to not only traditional paper documents, but also photographs, databases, maps, drawings, audio and video recordings etc. may constitute public documents.
Are all official documents freely accessible?
Official documents are generally public. In some specific cases, information in official documents is to be kept secret, but this requires statutory support in the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (SFS 2009: 400). Contact the Legal Services Office for more information about the application of secrecy provisions in the Act.
Are registered documents always public?
No, document registration is not only an instrument for transparency, it is also a way to keep track of documents within the public authority, including internal documents which are not yet public. The determining factor of whether or not a document is public is if it was received or drawn up by and located at/stored with the public authority.
What is not an official document?
Documents sent internally within the authority, such as emails, are generally regarded as mere work-related documents, and these will not become public until the matter to which they belong has been closed.
Another type of document that is frequently asked about is notes – memos or other written or recorded items that were only produced for the sake of presenting or preparing a case, and which provide no factual value to the matter other than what has already been documented. If these notes are not included in the file of the matter and are not archived, they shall not be considered official documents. However, if they add any facts of value to the matter, they shall be registered and archived together with the rest of the documents pertaining to the matter.
The rules for notes also apply to drafts/outlines of finalised documents. If they do not contain information that is of factual value to the matter, and they are not to be part of the processing or archived, they too shall not be considered official documents.
What do I do if someone requests an official document?
Requests for disclosure of official documents should be handled promptly. Normally, the officer who is in possession of the document is to decide whether it is official, and whether it should be disclosed. A decision to deny a request for disclosure of official documents is made by the University Director following an assessment by the Legal Services Office. The person requesting to obtain the official document usually has the right to remain anonymous and does not have to specify what the information will be used for (unless the request makes a secrecy assessment necessary – consult the Legal Services Office at the Legal and Record Management division).
For questions about disclosure of public documents and confidentiality, contact:
sanna.hakansson [at] legal.lu.se
+46 46 222 08 10
henrik.wiebe [at] legal.lu.se
+46 46 222 08 90