Mr. M and Fingal County Council

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date24 November 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator annulled the decision of the Council and directed the release of a record that the Council located during the course of the review.
Record Number150248
RespondentFingal County Council
Whether the Council was justified in its decision to refuse access to records relating to an appeal the applicant sought in connection with a recruitment competition under section 15(1)(a)of the FOI Act on the ground that that no relevant records exist or can be found after all reasonable steps have been taken to ascertain their whereabouts Conducted in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review Background

The applicant submitted a request to the Council on 2 June 2015 for access to records relating to an appeal he had sought in connection with a recruitment competition. The Council issued its decision in response to this request on 29 June 2015, granting access to a number of records. The applicant sought an internal review of that decision on the ground that the records released did not relate to the appeal. In its internal review decision of 28 July 2015, the Council stated that it had released all records within the scope of the applicant's request and that no further records existed. The applicant applied to this Office for a review of that decision by letter dated 10 August 2015.

In conducting this review I have had regard to the communications between this Office and both the applicant and the Council and to the communications between the applicant and the Council.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with the question of whether the Council was justified in refusing access to further records sought by the applicant under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the ground that no records exist or can be found after all reasonable steps have been taken to ascertain their whereabouts.

Analysis and Findings

Section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act provides for the refusal of a request where the records sought do not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain their whereabouts have been taken. The Commissioner's role in cases such as this is to review the decision of the public body and to decide whether that decision was justified. This means that I must have regard to the evidence available to the decision maker and the reasoning used by the decision maker in arriving at his/her decision and also must assess the adequacy of the searches conducted by the public body in looking for relevant records. The evidence in "search" cases consists of the steps actually taken to search for records, along with...

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