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What is a “request for re-use” and how do we make it right?

 This is the first of a series of posts where we will examine the methods and practices used to make requests for re-use in the Member States. The example of France.

Under the regulations an applicant may make a request to re-use, but what exactly means “re-use” and what is the subject of the re-use?

According to the PSI Directive definition, re-use means:

the use by a person or a legal entity of a document held by a public sector body for a purpose other than the initial purpose within that public sector body’s public task for which the document was produced    

Well, we now know that re-use is referred to “documents”. Are they pieces of paper or their definition is broader?

Again, the  PSI Directive help us. “Document” means:

any content whatever its medium (written on paper or stored in electronic form or as a sound, visual or audiovisual recording) or any part of such content. 

Ok, we can condensate the above saying that a request for re-use is:

A request for a content produced by a public sector body for a purpose different from the one that justified the creation of that content. 

But, how to practically apply a request for re-use to a public sector body?

Different Member States use different approaches. In this post we examine the French situation.

 

How to make a re-use request to a French public sector body

In France the main reference on the topic is the CADA, i.e. the Commission for Access to Administrative Documents (http://www.cada.fr ). It is an independent administrative and advisory body responsible for ensuring the freedom of access to administrative documents.
 

Its role is mainly to advise on the refusal by the public sector body to requests for communication from individuals, companies or associations. In case you are denied access to a document or you do not receive a response within a month, you can refer to the CADA that examines the request and expresses an opinion which constitutes a pre-litigation remedy. CADA’s opinion is mandatory before any litigation.

How to identify the right person or department of a French public sector body to whom address a request?

Public sector bodies above certain dimensions are subject to the obligation of designation of a PRADA (Personne Responsable de l’Accès aux Documents Administratifs et des questions relatives à la réutilisation des informations publiques) as required by the Code des relations entre le public et l’administration – articles L330-1 et R.330-2 et suivants.

Hence, the first thing to do is to find the PRADA contact of the public sector body you want to make the request. You can refer to the official list of PRADA contacts available on the CADA website.

Is there any template or standardized module to fill in a re-use request?

Normally not. You should at least respect some general provisions:

  • the request should not be too general ( opinion n ° 20071121 of March 22nd, 2007);
  • the documents must be precisely enumerated ( opinion no. 20071121 of 22 March 2007 and opinion no. ° 20081703 of May 6, 2008);
  • the documents requested should not be too numerous or represent an exorbitant volume, likely to cause material problems (for example: all the supporting documents for the accounts of a local authority: opinion n ° 19993707 of October 28th, 1999).

Sometimes you can find an on line form on the public sector body website, some examples here:

 

If there is no a dedicated online form, you should address your request to the PRADA contact, if available.

A possible incipit for the request may be the following, as suggested here:

Madame, Monsieur,
Au titre du droit d’accès aux documents administratifs consacré par la loi CADA, je souhaite obtenir la communication [du rapport bidule, du code source de tel logiciel, etc.].

En vous remerciant par avance,

Votre nom (agrémenté dans l’idéal de vos coordonnées). 

 

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