Mr X and Cork County Council

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date18 May 2020
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator varied the Council?s decision. He affirmed the Council?s decision to refuse access, under section 31(1)(a) of the Act, to four email records it identified as coming within the scope of the request. However, he directed the Council to undertake a fresh decision making process on the request on the ground that it may hold other relevant records.
Record NumberOIC-60599-R6B4M7
RespondentCork County Council
Whether the Council was justified in refusing access to all records relating to the recovery of costs from a notice party to legal proceedings involving the applicant

18 May 2020

Background

This review has its background in judicial review proceedings the applicant brought against the Council and a specified notice party. The applicant was successful in his action and the High Court made an order for costs against the Council. The order also provided that the Council was to recover a third of the applicant’s costs from the notice party to the proceedings. I understand the applicant’s costs were discharged in full by the Council.

On 25 July 2019, the applicant submitted a request to the Council for information relating to the costs, including details of the amount of costs recovered from the notice party. In its decision of 2 August 2019, the Council informed the applicant that no costs had been recovered. In a subsequent request dated 6 August 2019, the applicant sought access to all records relating to the work taken by the Council to recover costs from the notice party or alternatively, if the Council had not taken steps to recover costs from the notice party, all records relating to that decision by the Council. In a decision dated 3 September 2019, the Council refused the applicant’s request under section 31, on the basis that the records sought were exempt on the grounds of legal professional privilege. The applicant sought an internal review of that decision and on 30 September 2019, the Council affirmed its refusal of the request. On 30 December 2019, the applicant sought a review by this Office of the Council’s decision.

I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision. In conducting the review, I have had regard to the correspondence between the Council and the applicant outlined above, and to the communications between this Office and both the applicant and the Council on the matter. I have also had regard to the contents of the records at issue.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with whether the Council was justified in refusing the applicant’s request for records relating to the recovery of specified legal costs under section 31 of the Act.

Analysis and Findings

In correspondence with this Office, the Council identified four records as having been refused under section 31(1)(a). The records in question comprise emails between a legal adviser within the Council and staff members of the Council’s Planning...

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