Mr Y and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date01 Jul 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the Council's decision.
RespondentDún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Record NumberOIC-106757-P7X4V8
Whether the Council was justified in refusing access, under section 31(1)(a) of the Act, to the body of an email coming within the scope of the applicant’s request on the ground that it attracts legal professional privilege

1 July 2021

Background

Following correspondence between the parties, the applicant reached an agreement with the Council on 13 February 2021 to process a refined request for all correspondence exchanged between (1) any individuals in the Council’s Planning Department who deal with applications made under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) and (2) any staff of the Council’s Infrastructure & Climate Change Department who are working on the Active School Travel programme, in the period 30 October 2020 to date.

On 10 March 2021, the Council decided to part-grant the applicant’s request. It released one record (Record 2) and refused access to a second, (Record 1, described as email correspondence comprising two pages), under section 31(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the ground that it attracts legal professional privilege.

On 16 March 2021, the applicant sought an internal review of the Council’s decision to refuse access to record 1. The Council issued its internal review decision on 31 March, in which it varied its original decision. It affirmed the refusal of Record 1 but granted access to the attachment to the email. Following further correspondence between the parties, it appears that the Council granted partial access to record 1, with one part (the body of an email contained within an email chain) redacted under section 31(1)(a). On 26 April 2021 the applicant sought a review by this Office of the Council’s decision to withhold the information in question.

I have now completed my review in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act. In carrying out my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between the applicant and the Council as outlined above and to the correspondence between this Office and both the applicant and the Council on the matter. I have also had regard to the content of the relevant record.

Scope of the Review

This review is concerned solely with whether the Council was justified, under section 31(1)(a) of the FOI Act, in refusing access to the body of an email dated 21 January 2021 coming within the scope of the applicant’s request.

Analysis and Findings

Section 31(1)(a) provides for the mandatory refusal of a request if the record sought would be exempt from production in proceedings in...

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