Mr X and TUSLA

JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date20 October 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed TUSLA's decision to refuse access to the records under section 37 of the Act.
CourtInformation Commission
Record Number150121
Whether TUSLA was justified in its decision to refuse access to records relating to the applicant under sections 35 and 37 of the FOI Act on the basis that they contain both information that was given in confidence to TUSLA and personal information relating to third parties
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

On 16 February 2015 TUSLA received a request from the applicant for copies of correspondence and reports relating to him held by the Health Service Executive and TUSLA. In its decision of 13 March 2015 TUSLA identified nine records coming within the scope of the applicant's request, and part granted access to two records, redacting certain information under section 37(1) of the Act. It refused access to five records under sections 35(1)(a) and 37(1) of the FOI Act, and refused access to the two remaining records under section 37(1) only.

On 27 March 2015 TUSLA received a request from the applicant for an internal review of that decision. On 9 April 2015, TUSLA affirmed its original decision. On 23 April 2015 the applicant submitted an application to this Office for a review of that decision.

I note that during the course of this review Mr Benjamin O'Gorman of this Office informed the applicant of his view that TUSLA was justified in its decision to refuse access to the records at issue. The applicant indicated he wished to proceed to a formal binding decision.

In conducting this review I have had regard to correspondence between the applicant and TUSLA, to correspondence between the applicant and this Office, to correspondence between TUSLA and this Office, and to the contents of the records at issue.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with the question of whether TUSLA was justified in its decision to redact certain information from two records and to refuse access to a further seven records.

Preliminary Matters

Although I am obliged to give reasons for my decision, section 25(3) of the FOI Act requires me to take all reasonable precautions in the course of a review to prevent disclosure of information contained in an exempt record. This means that the extent to which I can describe the contents of the records is limited. I should also explain that section 13 of the FOI Act provides that in deciding whether to grant or refuse a request any reason that the requester gives for the request must generally be disregarded, except insofar as such reasons are relevant to the consideration of the public interest provisions of the Act.

I should also explain the approach this Office takes to the granting of access to parts of records. Section 18 of the FOI Act provides for the deletion of exempt information and the granting of access to a copy of a record with such exempt information removed. This should be done where it is practicable to do so and where the copy of the record thus created would not be misleading. However, the Commissioner takes the view that neither the definition of a record nor the provisions of section 18 envisage or require the extracting of particular sentences or occasional paragraphs from records for the purpose of granting access to those particular sentences or...

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