Sunday, November 29, 2009

Private Contracts Justifying Statutory Breaches?

My eye caught this sentence in an article on Climaquiddick:
In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.
I must disclaim any knowledge of British law, but I have some experience with Texas public information laws. This sounds ridiculous to me. Surely British law does not permit an entity otherwise subject to public disclosure requirements to evade the requirements by private contract. Otherwise public entities could, and no doubt would, evade public disclosure entirely.

I have often had opposing parties attempt to insert confidentiality clauses into contracts with public entities. Under Texas law, their choice is to acquiesce in legally mandated disclosure or walk away from the deal. Brits like to sneer at wild and wooly Americans, especially Texans. Could it be that their law is less comprehensive than ours?

The law requires that they make full disclosure.
Their bobbling and weaving are acts of a poseur.
They hide behind contracts to keep their stuff private,
But that’s a diversion, a way just to jive us.

When law provides that your data is public,
Contrary contracts don’t let you snub it.
Assassins with contracts still are just killers.
Crime is not lessened by crooks getting shriller.

To reply, email texthepontificator at yahoo dot com.

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