Ms Y and Sligo County Council

CourtInformation Commission
JudgePeter Tyndall Information Commissioner
Judgment Date13 August 2015
Case OutcomeThe Commissioner found that the Council was not justified in its decision to refuse the applicant's request under section 27(12)(a)(iii) of the FOI Act as it did not fully comply with the provisions of section 27 of the Act. He annulled the decision of the Council.
Record Number150134
RespondentSligo County Council
Whether the Council was justified in its decision to refuse the applicant's request on the ground that the amount of a search and retrieval and copying charge was likely to exceed the prescribed ceiling of €700 Conducted in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act by the Information Commissioner Background

The applicant, through her solicitors, submitted a request that was received by the Council on 15 January 2015 for a wide range of records relating to the repair and maintenance of Upper Pearse Road, Sligo, including records relating to the applicant's accident at the location in question. For the purposes of this decision, all references to the "applicant" may be read as references to the applicant or her agents, as appropriate.

On 20 January 2015, the Council wrote to the applicant requesting that she specify the actual records sought as it was of the opinion that her initial request did not contain sufficient particulars to identify the relevant records. The Council also requested the applicant to specify the time-frame covered by the request. By letter dated 26 January 2015, the applicant provided more detailed information concerning the records sought. She indicated that as she was unsure as to what information may be relevant to her claim, she required all records created since the enactment of the FOI Act 1997 relating to the particular stretch of road.

On 23 February 2015, the Council informed the applicant that it estimated the cost of searching for and retrieving relevant records at €1,020. It informed her as the estimated cost was in excess of the prescribed ceiling limit of €700 it was proposing to refuse the request unless the request was refined to bring the search and retrieval costs below the ceiling. It further explained that if an appropriate refinement could not be agreed, then the request would be refused under section 27(12)(a)(iii) of the FOI Act.

On 27 February 2015, the applicant requested an internal review of the decision of the Council in relation to the estimated search and retrieval costs. On 27 March 2015, the Council issued its decision on internal review, wherein it stated that as the request had not been refined, the decision to refuse the request on the ground that the estimated cost of search and retrieval was in excess of the prescribed ceiling limit of €700 was upheld. The applicant applied to my Office for a review of that decision on 1 May 2015.

In conducting this review, I have had regard to correspondence between the Council and the applicant as set out above. I have had regard to submissions received by this Office from the applicant and the Council, and...

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