Mr P and TUSLA: Child and Family Agency

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date06 Apr 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator annulled the decision of TUSLA on the basis that it located relevant records during the course of this review. He directed TUSLA to conduct a fresh decision-making process in respect of the applicant's request.
Record NumberOIC-104966-D7H3J2
RespondentTUSLA: Child and Family Agency
Whether TUSLA was justified in refusing access to the applicant’s birth, fostering and adoption records under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the ground that no relevant records could be found

6 April 2021

Background

In a request dated 22 November 2020, the applicant sought access to all records relating to his birth, fostering and adoption. In a late decision dated 27 January 2021, TUSLA refused the applicant’s request under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act. The applicant sought an internal review of that decision, following which TUSLA affirmed its original decision. On 11 March 2021, the applicant sought a review by this Office of TUSLA’s decision.

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 communications between TUSLA and the applicant referred to above and to communications between this Office and both parties on the matter. 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 TUSLA was justified in refusing, under section 15(1)(a) of the Act, the applicant’s request for records relating to his birth, fostering and adoption on the ground that no relevant records exist or could be found.

Analysis and Findings

Section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act provides that a request for access to records may be refused if the records sought either do not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain their whereabouts have been taken. The Commissioner’s role in such cases is to review the decision of the FOI body and to decide whether the decision was justified. This Office must have regard to the evidence available to the decision maker in arriving at his/her decision. The evidence in “search” cases generally consists of the steps actually taken to search for the records along with miscellaneous other information about the record management practices of the FOI body, insofar as those practices relate to the records in question.

During the course of the review, this Office requested submissions from TUSLA about the searches it had undertaken to locate the records sought by the applicant. In response, TUSLA informed this Office that further searches should have been undertaken. It explained that the applicant’s request had not been correctly directed to the National Adoption Services, being the location where records of this nature would normally be held.

TUSLA subsequently...

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