Mr X and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

JudgeStephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator
Judgment Date11 November 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that the Council was justified in its decision to charge a fee of ?160 under section 27 of the FOI Act. He affirmed the decision of the Council.
CourtInformation Commission
Record Number150212
RespondentDún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Whether the Council was justified under section 27 of the FOI Act in its decision to charge a fee of €160 for the cost of search and retrieval of records sought by the applicant concerning the inspection of bridges
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

The applicant submitted a request to the Council on 2 June 2015 for all records relating to Eirspan reports on inspections of bridges within its area from 1 January 2014 assessed as category 5 and a record of the total number of bridge inspections carried out in 2014 and the breakdown of such inspections by category under the Eirspan reporting system.

On 11 June 2015 the Council informed the applicant that the estimated cost of processing the request was €160 and it sought a deposit of €32. It also offered the applicant the option of amending his request to reduce or eliminate the fee payable. On 12 June 2015, the applicant revised the wording of his request. He sought access to details of the total number of bridges within the Council's area that it had a duty to inspect and a breakdown of the bridges inspected by rating category and the projected repair costs for each category. He also sought a copy of the reports for all bridges given a category rating of 5.

In response, the Council stated that, notwithstanding the clarification provided, the estimated fee was unchanged. On 19 June 2015, the applicant applied for an internal review of the decision to charge a search and retrieval fee. By letter dated 1 July 2015, the Council affirming its decision to charge a fee of €160. On 9 July 2015 the applicant a review by this Office of the Council's decision.

Mr Art Foley of this Office wrote to the applicant on 2 October 2015 outlining his view that the Council was justified in its decision to charge a fee of €160 in respect of his FOI request. The applicant indicated that he wished for this review to proceed to a final decision. I therefore consider that this review should now be brought to a close by issue of a formal, binding decision.

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

Scope of Review

This review is solely concerned with whether the Council was justified in its decision to charge a fee of €160 for the search and retrieval of records within the scope of the applicant's request.

Preliminary Matters

During the course of this review, the applicant suggested that this Office might perform an audit of the Council's use of the fees regime in relation to other requests. This review is being carried out under the provisions of section 22(2) of the FOI Act, and is concerned with whether the fees charged in this instance alone were justified. An examination of the manner in which the fees regime is being utilised by the Council would have to be conducted pursuant to section 44 of the FOI Act, and I am of the view that such an examination would not be...

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