Information Provided During the Course of Consultations
Confidentiality Provisions

Roger Clarke

Principal, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Version of 22 May 1998

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 1998

This document is at


A vital element of any consultation is the provision of information by each party to the other parties that are involved. In order to develop and sustain confidence among the parties, it is important that this information be handled appropriately. This document contains a set of provisions that can be applied to achieve that purpose.

In the following sections, several categories of information are identified, and the confidentiality conditions applying to each are defined.

Public Information

Where a party to consultations provides information that represents an official statement by an organisation, it may reasonably be treated as public information. Subject to the provisions of copyright law, public information may be provided to people who are not participants to the consultations.

In Confidence Information

Where a party provides information that is communicated to be 'In Confidence' or 'Commercial-in-Confidence', all parties are to respect that request. Where a participant wishes to communicate some or all of that information to a third party, permission is to be sought from the person providing the information. If permission is unreasonably withheld, mutual confidence among the parties is very likely to be harmed.

Working Papers

Where a party provides information that is communicated to be a 'Working Paper' or 'For Discussion Only', all parties are to respect the fact that the information is not an official statement by the organisation concerned, but rather an indication of the directions of the organisation's thinking, and/or a means of stimulating appreciation of and debate concerning the issues.

Such information is generally not to be made available to third parties, and especially not in a manner that implies that the information is in any way authoritative. It is, however, reasonable and appropriate for the topics under discussion to be communicated, especially to other advocates and representatives of relevant stakeholders.


Where participants make comments during the consultation process, especial care is to be taken not to divulge the details (as distinct from divulging the nature of the topics under discussion). This is because the consultation process is dynamic. People need the opportunity to 'fly kites' and 'test the water', and publication of such comments would tend to stultify discussion.


Go to Roger's Home Page.

Go to the contents-page for this segment.

Send an email to Roger

Created: 22 May 1998

Last Amended: 22 May 1998

These community service pages are a joint offering of the Australian National University (which provides the infrastructure), and Roger Clarke (who provides the content).
The Australian National University
Visiting Fellow, Faculty of
Engineering and Information Technology,
Information Sciences Building Room 211
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, ACN: 002 360 456
78 Sidaway St
Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 6 288 6916 Fax: +61 6 288 1472