In a dispute between the parties as to whether the applicant was a partner in a partnership with the respondent, the court gave the applicant access to the annual financial statements of the close corporation that had arisen out of the transactions of the alleged partnership.

The court found that an applicant under section 50 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 only has to make out a prima facie (even if open to some doubt) right to the information.  Section 50 allows access to any record of a private body “if that record is required for the exercise or protection of any rights”.  The applicant contended that the record would assist him in exercising his right as a partner of the respondent.  The claim was based on his legal entitlements as a partner.

The judgment is clearly wrong.  As the respondents alleged, until the dispute as to whether the applicant was a partner is resolved he cannot have access to the records of the partnership to find out what his entitlement as a partner is.  The records were not required, according to the applicant’s own allegations, to exercise his right to prove that he was a partner and access should not have been granted.

[Hyde v Hyde 2021 JDR 0148 (WCC)]