Ms C and TUSLA

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date20 October 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that TUSLA was justified in its decision to refuse access to the record sought by the applicant under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act. He affirmed TUSLA's decision.
Record Number150222
RespondentTUSLA
Whether TUSLA was justified in its decision to refuse access to a recording of a telephone conversation between the applicant and a social worker on the ground that no such record exists 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 Background

On 6 May 2015, the applicant submitted a request to TUSLA for a copy of a recorded telephone conversation to which reference is made in a specified record contained in her file. The record in question is an application for admission to voluntary care. It contains a hand written entry dated 4 February 2010 by a named social worker stating that the applicant was too emotionally upset to sign the form but gave verbal consent over the phone. The applicant sought a copy of that telephone conversation.

In its decision dated 28 May 2015 TUSLA informed the applicant that section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act applies as no such record exists. On 25 June 2015 the applicant requested an internal review of TUSLA's decision and on 20 July 2015 TUSLA issued its internal review decision, upholding the original decision. The applicant sought a review by this Office of TUSLA's decision on 22 July 2015.

I note that Mr Richard Crowley of this Office contacted the applicant by telephone on 2 October 2015 and informed her of his view that TUSLA's decision was justified. The applicant requested written confirmation of this. 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 correspondence between TUSLA and the applicant, to communications between this Office and the applicant and to communications between this Office and TUSLA on the matter.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with whether TUSLA was justified in refusing access to a record of a telephone conversation between the applicant and a social worker under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act, on the ground that the record sought does not exist.

Analysis and Findings

Section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act provides that a request for access to a record may be refused if the record concerned does not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken. This Office's role in such cases is to review the decision of the FOI body...

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