Mr Y and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator Stephen Rafferty
Judgment Date18 Dec 2020
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the decision of the Department to refuse access to the withheld information under section 42(m)(i) of the FOI Act.
Record NumberOIC-95894-W7R1Y8
RespondentDepartment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Whether the Department was justified in refusing information relating to the identity of the person who reported the death of a calf near the applicant’s property under sections 35(1)(a) and/or 42(m)(i) of the FOI Act

18 December 2020

Background

In a request dated 16 April 2020, the applicant sought details of “the individual who reported the death of a calf on the side of the road” near his property two days prior. On 18 May 2020, the Department wrote to the applicant and identified one record, comprising a phone note, which fell within the scope of his request. The Department refused the request under section 35(1)(a) of the FOI Act, which is concerned with the protection of information given in confidence.

In a letter dated 4 June 2020, the applicant sought an internal review of that decision. He said he was advised that the calf was hit by a car and that he required the identity of the complainant in order to pursue a legal claim to recover loss. On 3 July 2020, the Department affirmed its original decision to refuse the request On 24 August 2020, the applicant sought a review of the Department’s decision.

During the course of the review, Ms Whelan of this Office informed the applicant of her view that section 42(m)(i) was the more relevant provision in this case and invited him to make a submission on the matter. In response, the applicant simply indicated that he wanted the review to proceed.

I have now completed my review in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act. In conducting my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between the Department and the applicant as outlined above and to correspondence between this Office and both the Department and the applicant on the matter. I have also examined the record concerned. I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision.

Scope of the Review

This review is concerned solely with whether the Department was justified in refusing access to the name of the individual who reported a dead calf under sections 35(1)(a) and/or 42(m)(i) of the FOI Act.

Analysis and Findings

While the Department relied on section 35(1)(a) to refuse access to the identity of the caller in this case, I am of the view that section 42(m)(i) is the more relevant provision in this case. Accordingly, I will consider this exemption first.

Section 42(m)(i)

Section 42(m)(i) provides that the Act does not apply to a record relating to information whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to reveal...

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