Mr X and Defence Forces

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date19 October 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator annulled the Defence Forces decision and directed it to undertake a fresh decision making process.
RespondentDefence Forces
Record NumberOIC-112390-X3X5C4
Whether the Defence Forces was justified in refusing, under section 37(3) of the FOI Act, an application for reasons why the applicant was medically downgraded by a named doctor in January 2021

OIC-112390-X3X5C4

Background

In a letter dated 25 January 2021, the applicant applied to the Defence Forces for “the reasons for the decision of [a named doctor] to medically downgrade me on 6 January 2021”. On 10 March 2021, the Defence Forces informed the applicant that it was necessary to extend the period for consideration of his request by 4 weeks under section 14 of the FOI Act as it was experiencing a high volume of requests. It said that as soon as it received the required documents, it would release the appropriate records without delay.

On 29 April 2021, the applicant sought an internal review of the deemed refusal of his request. On 30 June 2021, as the Defence Forces again failed to issue a decision within the statutory time-frame, the applicant sought a review by this Office of the deemed refusal of his application for a statement of reasons. This Office asked the Defence Forces to provide the applicant with its effective position on the matter. On 12 August 2021, the Defence Forces issued a letter to the applicant wherein it said that it directed its FOI Office to furnish the applicant with “the requested information in accordance with Section 37(4) of the FOI Act”.

On 2 September 2021, the applicant informed this Office that he had not received the information sought. This Office sought to clarify the matter with the Defence Forces. On 1 October 2021, the Defence Forces issued a revised decision wherein it said it had decided to refuse the applicant’s request under section 37(3) of the Act. It said that pursuant to section 37(4), his medical records would be released “to a professional person (General Practitioner) nominated by [him]”. Subsequently, the applicant informed this Office that he wished to proceed with the review. He did not accept that he should have to attend a GP to access the information requested.

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 Defence Forces and the applicant, and to communications between this Office and both the applicant and the Defence Forces on the matter.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with whether the Defence Forces was justified in refusing, under section 37(3) of...

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