Ms Y and TUSLA: Child and Family Agency

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date14 December 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed TUSLA's decision.
RespondentTUSLA: Child and Family Agency
Record NumberOIC-111890-M9W1C1
Whether TUSLA was justified in refusing direct access to social work records relating to the applicant and her son on the basis that section 37(3) of the FOI applied

14 December 2021

Background

In a request dated 20 September 2020, the applicant sought access to all files, reports and records held by TUSLA about herself, her son and her family. On 19 July 2021, having received no decision on her request, the applicant sent a reminder to TUSLA, which TUSLA treated as an application for an internal review of the deemed refusal of the request.

In a decision dated 16 August 2021, TUSLA refused the request pursuant to section 37(3) of the FOI Act, but offered to make the records available to a relevant health professional of the applicant’s choice in accordance with section 37(4).

TUSLA said that it recommended that a health professional with an understanding of the records would support the applicant in accessing her records. It said a qualified social worker would be appropriate in this case. It invited the applicant to choose a social worker if she wished or offered to provide one to assist her.

On 19 August 2021, the applicant sought a review by this Office of TUSLA’s decision. She also provided written authority for her mother to represent her during the review. Accordingly, any references to communications with the applicant in this decision should be taken to include communications with her mother.

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 outlined above and to the submissions made by both parties. I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision. I have also had regard to the contents of the records concerned.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with the question of whether TUSLA was justified in refusing the applicant direct access to her records under section 37(3) of the FOI Act.

Preliminary Matters

While I am required to give reasons for my decisions, this is subject to the requirement, under section 25(3), that I take all reasonable precautions in the course of a review to prevent the disclosure of exempt material. This means that the reasons I can give for my decision in this case are quite limited.

Furthermore, it is important to note that the Act provides that in deciding whether to grant or refuse a request, any reasons that a requester gives for a request shall be disregarded, except in so far as...

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