A Mr. Michael Bruton requested environmental information concerning an oyster farm from the Duchy of Cornwall. This request was refused by the Information Commissioner on the basis that the Duchy did not regard itself as a public authority within the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
On appeal, the First Tier Tribunal held that, whatever doubts surrounded its status in the past, the Duchy is now a body or other legal person. It also held that the Duchy was a statutory harbour authority which is a 'relevant authority' under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). If the Duchy is not the Statutory Harbour Authority then the Duke is. Finally, it found that in a modern day context the Duchy is carrying out the public function or service of providing an income for the undertaking of an extremely important constitutional role for the UK (ie the public functions of the Duke of Cornwall). ‘It follows that if the Duchy is not properly funding the Duke the government could step in to ensure it is carrying out this public function, as it has done over many centuries in relation to the Duchy through various Acts of Parliament’.
The unanimous decision of the tribunal was that the Duke of Cornwall is a public authority under the regulations and that it must accordingly deal with Mr Bruton’s request.
Among the authorities considered by the Tribunal were Aston Cantlow & Wilmcote with Billesley Parochial Church Council v Wallbank  1 AC 546 and Smartsource v IC & 19 Others  I Info LR 1498.
Michael Bruton v IC, Additional Party The Duchy of Cornwall & The Attorney General to HRH the Prince of Wales EA/2010/0182
6th Edition » | Chapter 22