Mr X and Mayo County Council

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date07 April 2022
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the Council's decision.
RespondentMayo County Council
Record NumberOIC-112466-X7R1D3
Whether the Council was justified in refusing access, under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act, to further records relating to a complaint regarding the installation of a solid fuel stove at a named property on the basis that no further records exist or can be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain their whereabouts have been taken

7 April 2022

Background

The applicant owns an apartment in County Mayo. It appears that another apartment owner in the building installed a solid fuel stove in the early 2000s but that this only recently came to the attention of the Council, in particular Mayo County Fire Service. The Council, as the Fire Authority, is responsible for issuing Fire Safety Certificates and Fire Safety Compliance Certificates. It appears that the management company for the apartment complex complained to the Council about the stove and raised concerns that an insurance company refused to provide cover in 2020 as a result of the installation. Subsequently, the property owners who installed the stove corresponded with the Council. They engaged a technical adviser who was of the opinion that the stove installation was not a material alteration as defined under the relevant Building Control Regulations. The Council also received an ancillary certificate of compliance. Considering the information, the Council determined that the stove was in compliance with the relevant Building Regulations 1997-2014.

On 3 March 2021 the applicant submitted a request for “all the correspondence, submissions, deliberations and the final decision of all and by all the relevant parties pertaining to the decision to allow the use of a solid fuel stove at [a named apartment], contrary to the Fire Safety Certificate and Fire Safety Compliance Certificate”.

On 31 March 2021 issued a decision in which it part-granted the request. It withheld certain records in whole or in part under section 37(1) of the Act on the ground that the withheld information was personal information relating to third parties. On 21 April 2021, the applicant sought an internal review of that decision. He stressed the importance of the residents understanding how the Council arrived at its decision and said that a number of the records withheld and listed in the schedule had already been shared with him by those third parties. On 14 May 2021 the Council varied its decision and released in full all but two of the records, which were released in part. It also released an additional record that had not...

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